World Mental Health Day 2023

Employers, schools, universities and organisations globally marked World Mental Health Day 2023 (10 October) hosting events highlighting this year’s theme of good mental health being a universal human right.

World Mental Health Day card green ribbon
With both mental wellbeing and inclusion rising to the top of the business, health and policy agenda post-pandemic, the World Health Organisation is leading calls for the issue to be taken seriously as a basic human right. It has published new advice, Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation: Guidance and practice, to support countries reform legislation and increase access to quality mental health care.“Mental health is an integral and essential component of the right to health,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general. “This new guidance will support countries to make the changes needed to provide quality mental health care that assists a person’s recovery and respects their dignity, empowering people with mental health conditions and psychosocial disabilities to lead full and healthy lives in their communities.

Related reading to support World Mental Health Day – 10 October 2023

Safeguarding mental wellbeing in the workplace

In the UK, the Mental Health Foundation reported over 7,000 Tea & Talk events, providing 260,000 people with the chance to chat about their own mental wellbeing and support others. Figures released by XpertHR also suggest that the message is getting through to employers around their duty of care and the importance of healthy workplaces.“Mental health issues have become a worrying feature of the modern workplace, especially in the years since the pandemic,’ commented Bar Huberman, content manager, HR strategy & practice at XpertHR. “However, its rise has been matched by growing recognition among senior leaders of the duty of care they have for employees.”Sarah Dennis at independent insurance broker Towergate Health and Protection has also seen support improve. “We frequently talk to our clients about how we can best help them in supporting their overseas employees. A better understanding of where the problems lay means the solutions can be more tightly focused and more likely to make a significant difference.”Overseas employees have different health and wellbeing requirements than staff based in the UK, she adds. Healthcare facilities, political threats, infectious diseases in the area will all have a different impact according to the location they’re based in the world. Supporting all four pillars of health and wellbeing – mental, physical, social, financial – can be more challenging for employees in remote regions, with physical isolation leading to emotional isolation too.Addressing the different health risks for overseas employees, providing the right preventative care and access to support, will help with any productivity and absenteeism problems. But for the specific issues relating to employees abroad, specific solutions are required. “There are recurring themes regarding the concerns of overseas employers, but the good news is that there are also numerous solutions,” says Sarah Dennis.“Talking to international experts, considering health screening, benchmarking, and looking at communication can all be a great help. Specific and focused solutions will give direction, purpose and value to the benefits spend.”

Opening up to your employer

Online training company GoodHabitz's webinar ‘Time to thrive: Opening up about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace’ echoed these points from an international perspective. Host Aimee Clarke, editor-in-chief of GoodHabitz Studios, interviewed Mar Casas, aeronautical psychologist at Vueling Airlines, Charlot Pagel, people & culture manager at Switzerland’s Mammut Group, and former Olympian athlete Dame Kelly HolmesThey talked about their own experiences, and about how they are promoting and supporting positive mental wellbeing in their organisations. This included overcoming the challenges people might find speaking up and seeking help, and how we can all raise the bar of mental health support at work.“It’s not easy opening up,” said Dame Kelly Holmes. “It is going to show some kind of weakness? Am I now really vulnerable to people’s thoughts? I actually think it’s a strength to be open and transparent. It doesn’t stop you being a successful person.”Underlining the important role of a positive workplace culture backed by access to professional support, Dame Kelly Holmes continued: “I’ve described how I’ve achieved so much in life, yet I’ve been at the lowest of the low, not even wanting to be here one day. They don’t necessarily come together in terms of it’s one or the other. It’s you. "If you can learn and get support to deal with the emotions you have, then they won’t really affect your ability to do your job. And I don’t think you should ever be put back in a box, either. If you are, that place, that position, isn’t right for you. That organisation isn’t right for you.” 

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