The past 12 months have taken a toll on the mental health of most people, and it’s important to talk openly about the challenges we face.
Experts indicate that stress and anxiety are normal in moments of crisis. But the challenges posed by the pandemic have been enduring, and the path to normality is likely to be long. And, so, the stress many of us have felt over the past 12 months has the potential to become problematic and even damaging.
Anxiety doesn’t discriminate by wealth or status. Recent data from premium health insurer Bupa Global in its Executive Wellbeing Index showed that 70 per cent of high net worth individuals from around the world have experienced symptoms of mental ill-health since the start of the pandemic. Business leaders face a double challenge: not only must they manage their own mental health, they also have a duty of care to look after their employees.
Despite the wealth of information, resources and even legislation available to support people with mental health issues, talking about these topics could still be considered difficult by some.
According to Bupa Global’s Index, 33 per cent of business leaders feel that seeking help for mental health issues could impact on their social standing or professional reputation.
Stigma and discrimination can worsen someone’s mental health problems and delay or impede them getting help and treatment, so it’s vital to tackle them.
“The first step is being open and honest: accepting our challenges, rather than brushing them under the carpet,” says Dr Luke James, medical director at Bupa Global. “Just because you’re successful doesn’t mean that everything is okay, and because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with mental ill-health, expert support is essential.”
Indeed, business leaders have a responsibility to break down the stigma associated with mental health issues such as stress and anxiety to ensure everyone can thrive at work.
Leading by example
Being an effective manager is about much more than simply delegating workloads and tracking performance against KPIs and targets. It’s clear that a happy workforce is a more motivated and productive one, so the first step is talking about mental health openly and honestly.
For Dr James, the key is viewing mental health for what it is – a problem with someone’s health. “We find it normal, or at least easier, to talk about our physical illnesses than we do about how life, stress and mental ill-health affects our brain,” he explains. “But the truth is that speaking up about mental health in the workplace is the only way to break this stigma.”
Some organisations are already putting this into practice. Indeed, as part of an initiative from the World Health Organisation, a number of organisations, including Clifford Chance, Deloitte and HSBC, have teamed up to encourage other firms to advance “the desperately needed conversation around creating an open, welcoming, and supportive workplace environment for all when it comes to mental health” – signing a pledge committing themselves to promoting and developing a more positive culture around mental health.
Bupa Global’s approach to mental health support
At Bupa Global, our purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives. We recognise that mental health is just as important as physical health and believe in helping people to feel their best and stay that way too. To support this, we have removed both annual and monetary limits across plans for in-patient and day-patient mental health treatment (up to the annual maximum limit of your chosen plan).
For more information about Bupa Global premium health plans visit bupaglobal.com/withyou, or talk to our Private Client team today on 03333 315758
Calls may be recorded. Bupa Global is a trading name of Bupa Insurance Limited and Bupa Insurance Services Limited. Bupa Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Bupa Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.