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Leading organisations plan to prioritise mental health as employees return to work

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) is one of 33 leading organisations including Unilever, Barclays and Santander, that have signed an open letter to The Times newspaper committing to prioritising the mental health of their employees as they return to work.

The letter comes as fears grow around the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. The open letter cites research by the charity Mind, which found that 35 per cent of employees describe their mental health as either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, and that the prospect of returning to work was causing them to feel anxious.

This is reinforced by CIPD research, which found that 43 per cent of employees said their general mental health has worsened since the coronavirus outbreak, rising to 52% for those with an existing mental health issue.

From an employer perspective, we found that 88 per cent of employers are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on employee mental health. And when asked for more detail about mental health issues, ‘fear and anxiety about themselves or a loved one becoming ill’ was by far the most common concern reported by employees within the surveyed organisations.

The open-letter emphasises that “there has never been a more important time to build back better when it comes to supporting employee mental health and wellbeing. As a group of leading employers and industry bodies in Britain, we are committed to doing this”.

It advises that employers can start by:

  • Signing up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment and adopting the six standards.
  • Reviewing the mental health support provided to employees and making sure it is fit for purpose in response to the impact of coronavirus, including in relation to employee assistance programmes.
  • Visiting www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk to access quality assured information, resources and toolkits.

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