A recent report from the British Medical Association (BMA) warns that the COVID-19 pandemic may precipitate a mental health crisis in the UK. Published almost simultaneously, research from BUPA suggests that UK citizens lack confidence in addressing the issues of anxiety and depression that are attendant on social distancing. The two studies combined paint a grim picture, but they also indicate the potential importance of the workplace in mitigating the impact of coronavirus.
The BMA report concerns itself primarily with lockdown-related mental health issues, which it considers in the context of public health. Identifying a shortfall in mental health spending, the burden of which will fall primarily on disadvantaged groups, it advocates enhanced government spending and improved support for those who have been made responsible for the nation’s mental health.
BUPA’s more intimate study is based on a detailed survey of some 2,000 adults. Of those who took part, more than half (52%) expressed worries about life under the conditions of a ‘new normal’. Concerns about returning to crowded spaces and recommencing use of public transport were widespread, while nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) expressed anxieties about going back to the office.
That last finding represents an important challenge to HR departments – and positions products like LeavePlanner as important weapons in the fight against mental illness.
That’s so because absenteeism is an important symptom of wider mental health problems. Concerned HR managers who use our software to flag those individuals displaying patterns of absence (‘Blue Monday syndrome’) are equipped to become first responders in the battle against declining mental health. They can provide frontline support and direct struggling colleagues towards the resources they need.
Of course, absenteeism is only one aspect of a wider problem of stigma and concealment. But, with some 43% of BUPA respondents reporting that they had experienced pressure to ‘grin and bear it’, there’s no doubt that the workplace can become an important focus in the fight for the nation’s mental health.
LeavePlanner can help you tackle workplace absenteeism. Start your free 30-day trial today.