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MENTAL 


HEALTH MATTERS


What improvements can be implemented in the workplace? Our work is about trying to get people to recognise the value of integrating mental health initiatives in the business at an early stage. A few years ago, we ran an economic analysis, and we know that the cost to the economy of mental health problems is high and rising. It costs about £30 billion a year. But if you look at the value added by the people working with mental health problems, that is massively higher, about £226 billion a year, which is about 12% of GDP. People are in the workplace


dealing with stuff on a daily basis and if all the people who were affected by mental health problems personally or professionally were suddenly not able to work, the impact on the economy would be incredible. Our argument is that mental


health needs to be on top of the business agenda, because promoting and protecting the mental health of your people is an important thing to do for business success.


What can be done in companies where employees work out of the office? Tat’s the territory we now need to be in, and one we’re moving into in the mental health sector. We need to think about non-traditional work environments and travel is a really interesting one. We’re starting to see organisations with very dispersed workforces look at mental health. We know that the manager relationship is critical to mental health at work, but if your team is all over the world, that’s a difficult thing to do. Tere are some small practical steps you can take; for example, ensuring you have the ability to do video conferencing rather than phone conferencing or email can be very helpful. Tere’s an


14 6 JUNE 2019


15.4m


Working days lost due to work-related stress, anxiety or depression last year (MHFA)


element we need to look at around shiſt work and unusual hours, which definitely applies to the travel trade. If you were a great manager and


you had a member of staff in your office who had a mental health problem, you’d probably work with them on a self-management plan. You’d ask, “How will I know if things aren’t going well? What do you need? And what kind of adjustments can we make?” However, if you’re managing someone in another country, there’s an extra dimension in terms of what the local support is like. What do we need to do to help you?


How does taking good care of mental health in the travel workplace affect how well people do their jobs? Increased mental health awareness is something that benefits people who are in customer-facing roles.


Te ability to be switched on to something that you probably knew was there, but you didn’t necessarily see, is a big thing. If somebody comes in looking for a holiday, and they say: “My son has some health problems, we want to find a place he can go.” If you can say: “As a company, we take mental health seriously and I know it can be a challenge for health insurance, so let me see if I can find some specialist travel insurers…”, that is going to increase the goodwill that that client’s family has for your business. Sometimes taking a client focus and a business focus enables firms to look at their own practice as well.


One in four


people will experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year (NHS England)


How can travelling, for work and for holiday, affect mental health? Undoubtedly, travel can be really helpful for people. Taking a break and having new experiences, doing things you’re good at and broadening your horizons are all things that could help us with our mental health. But also, doing it can be quite stressful. We need to recognise, personally and logistically, that travel has an impact on our mental health. And when we travel for work, our employers don’t always give us enough time to recover before we’re expected to


perform. travelweekly.co.uk


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