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Prioritizing Mental Health Resilience: A Critical Imperative for Global Workforces on World Mental Health Day 2023

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As the world observes World Mental Health Day today, October 10th, International SOS,World Mental Health Day today, October 10th, International SOS, a provider of health and security risk services globally, underscores the increasing significance of mental health resilience within the international workforce.

In a world grappling with persistent and far-reaching crises, the impact of these challenges on employees’ mental well-being has never been more pronounced. The convergence of a global pandemic, soaring living costs, geopolitical uncertainties, and the rapidly evolving workplace dynamics has subjected individuals and organizations to unprecedented stressors on a global scale.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2019, 15% of working-age adults were living with a mental disorder, resulting in a staggering loss of 12 billion working days annually due to depression and anxiety alone.

International SOS Assistance Centre has observed a 5% surge in requests for assistance related to mental health during the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

The causes of these mental health challenges include adverse working conditions, such as discrimination, inequality, excessive workloads, low job control, and job insecurity. Without effective support systems, mental illnesses can impair individuals’ productivity, increase absenteeism, and hinder their ability to secure and retain employment.

Dr. Oliver Harrison, CEO of Koa Health, a leading global provider of digital-first mental healthcare, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “We live in challenging times, with global economic pressures, post-pandemic recovery, geopolitical tensions, and climate crisis concerns. In this context, mental health resilience has become a critical matter for both public and private organizations. Employees spend a significant portion of their lives at work, putting employers in a unique position to support their mental health through prevention and accessible, inclusive benefits.”

To bolster both employee well-being and business health, organizations must prioritize mental health and well-being for all employees. Whether individuals are grappling with everyday mental health challenges or require clinical assistance, employers must ensure that their workforce has access to the necessary mental health support when and where they need it.

Dr. Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez, International SOS Global Health Advisor for Wellness and Mental Health, warned against overlooking mental health issues, emphasizing the emotional and financial costs. He stated, “Ignoring mental health concerns in the workplace carries significant consequences, affecting individuals and organizations alike. Since individuals often face substantial expenses when seeking mental health resources, organizations must take the lead in implementing preventive strategies and providing affordable counseling and support for their teams.”

Organizations dedicated to fostering a resilient mental health culture recognize the importance of equipping all stakeholders with the knowledge and resources to address mental health challenges comprehensively. Dr. Oliver Harrison added, “With a shortage of mental healthcare professionals reaching record highs, even employees with clinical diagnoses struggle to access the support they need. To address this, mental health must be seamlessly integrated into benefits strategies, rather than treated as a separate entity. Organizations will increasingly utilize a blend of human expertise and technology to create a more effective and inclusive approach to mental healthcare, catering to the needs of all employees.”

International SOS offers a framework for organizations to safeguard the mental health and well-being of their employees:

  1. Foster a Supportive Work Culture: Create an environment that encourages open dialogue about mental health and integrates mental health initiatives into policies and practices.
  2. Promote Mental Health Awareness: Launch comprehensive awareness campaigns to reduce stigma and encourage open conversations.
  3. Provide Accessible Resources: Ensure employees have easy access to mental health resources, including counseling and self-guidance materials.
  4. Adapt to Individual Needs: Offer flexible work arrangements to reduce work-related stress and accommodate individual requirements.
  5. Training and Education: Provide mental health training to enable employees to recognize and address mental health challenges.
  6. Monitor and Assess: Continuously evaluate employees’ mental health through surveys and assessments to tailor programs as needed.
  7. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Offer confidential counseling and support services, leveraging digitally enabled mental health care solutions like the Koa Foundations Wellbeing App to increase accessibility while managing costs effectively.

By prioritizing mental health resilience, organizations can foster a healthier, more resilient workforce capable of navigating the complexities of today’s ever-changing landscape.

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