What are the issues around mental health at work?

The Covid-19 health crisis has highlighted the importance of mental health at work: people's daily lives have been overturned and spirits are at a new low due to lockdowns and strict health measures. In this difficult context, it is more important than ever for companies to support their employees and to preserve a sense of balance and well-being at work.


Mental health at work: what does it mean? 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. So mental health has an impact on our feelings, our emotions, our way of living and even our relationship with work. When mental health deteriorates, serious illnesses can develop: depression, anxiety disorders and psychosocial risk factors (psychotic disorders, bipolarity, burn-out, emotional disorders, etc.). Almost 10 % of the world's population is thought to be suffering from these psychological issues to a large degree! 


Mental health during the pandemic 

The issue of mental health at work was for a long time taboo, but is now covered more and more often in the media due to (or thanks to?) the international pandemic. Covid-19 has had a lasting impact on employee's mental health. Besides the stress and anxiety linked to the epidemic itself, the expansion of remote working and the wide application of health restrictions have revolutionised daily life in and outside the office and have had a negative impact on mental health at work, especially among young people, women and managers. According to a VidaHealth survey from January 2021, 45% adults said they considered getting mental health treatment because of the COVID-19 pandemic and 88% said they had experienced one or more of the depression symptoms during Covid-19.


During the Covid-19 pandemic, Accenture decided to launch a workplace sport and wellness programme to encourage staff to take care of their mental and physical health. See the programme in video. 




Why should employers be concerned? 

The issues of mental health are the number one cause of invalidity in the developed world. The importance of staff's mental health has become a major social question. In 2017, the WHO estimated that psychological problems cost the world economy 1,000 billion dollars in lost productivity each year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has also shown that depression causes 200 million lost workdays each year. The cost of depression at work to employers would be of $17 billion to $44 billion: mental health issues at work have an impact on the efficacy of employees in the workplace and increase their rate of absenteeism.



Risk prevention: 5 ways to take care of staff


How can you protect your employees' mental health? 

To preserve the mental health of employees at work and foster their well-being on a daily basis, here are a few tips to apply in the office and for people working from home.


Raising awareness and prevention

Organising awareness-raising sessions about the danger of stress should be one of the responsibilities of each employer. Managers should also be trained in encouraging employees to disconnect and dismantling clichés about mental health. Wellness and sport initiatives can also encourage employees to take care of themselves.


Be open to feedback

Don't forget to ask your staff for feedback, to set up communication tools to promote interaction, as well as more informal moments of sharing and conviviality for a coffee or an event after work.


Create a healthy work environment

Set up open work environments, encourage independence and develop your company culture. Encourage emotional intelligence to organise teams better and to communicate more effectively.