Last week, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), Global Business Group on Health (GBGH), and Global Chief Medical Officer Network (GCMON) joined forces to respond to the need for increased awareness around issues of mental health in the workplace and the key role that employers can play in the lives of employees with mental, emotional, and behavioural disorders. Tackling issues around mental health and wellbeing is no small task. Strengthening collaborations between stakeholders to share knowledge and take joint action towards promoting positive mental health and wellbeing is essential to addressing these pressing issues.
This collaboration is focused on looking into ways to help drive industries forward in a collective effort to help employees around the world pursue healthier lifestyle choices, with an emphasis on the nurturing of employee health and wellbeing. One of the goals of the partnership is to leverage the collective voice of member companies of all organisations to raise awareness and drive positive change. This collaboration marks the first time that the CGF has partnered with industries outside of consumer goods to map out the mental health and wellbeing landscape, ultimately widening the scope.
The Issues of Mental Health and Wellbeing
Issues of mental health are widespread across communities around the globe. While there have been substantial efforts made by some countries and organisations to better the mental health of populations and employees, a significant amount of work remains to be done. The lack of access to mental health care is still an issue for many people suffering from mental disorders who ultimately do not benefit from the available effective prevention and promotion interventions.
It is estimated that approximately 80% of people in low- and middle-income countries and approximately 42% of people in high-income countries do not receive mental health care. In Mexico for example, the number of deaths due to mental disorders increased by 33% between 2008 and 2014, while in Europe it is estimated that one in four people face mental health challenges at least once in their lifetime, with suicide remaining one of the main causes of premature deaths on the continent. There is therefore a need for decisive steps to make mental health and wellbeing a key priority not only at national levels, but also within local communities and in the workplace.
Employee Health and Wellness
There is a clear link between mental health issues and the loss of productive human capital. This leads to increased burdens in the workplace, with considerable costs for employers because of increased absenteeism or higher employee presence for more hours than is required as a result of insecurity about their jobs. Meanwhile employees with mental disorders sometimes bear the brunt of reductions in their earnings as a result of their conditions.
Positive mental health and wellbeing is not only a key factor for social cohesion but is also an essential element for economic and sustainable development. Close to 2 out of 3 of companies worldwide with effective health and productivity programmes in place believe their performance to be better than their competitors. It is therefore in the interest of employers to ensure that employee health and wellness is treated as a priority item, leading to frameworks for action to develop mental health policies.
While much is increasingly known about mental health prevention, care and treatment, a significant challenge remains in implementing this knowledge, especially in communities and in the workplace where mental health awareness and services are limited. Tackling the widespread stigma and prejudice affecting all aspects of mental health continues to be one of the main hurdles. In addition to the social stigma surrounding mental health issues, the lack of trained health-care providers and resources and inaccurate assessments hinders progress within this landscape.
Pauline Harper, Director, Health & Wellness, The Consumer Goods Forum, said, “Through the CGF, GBGH, GCMON collaboration, a toolkit promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace will be developed by the fourth quarter of 2019 to provide companies with a framework to implement employee mental health awareness in their teams. It will aim to give context on how the scale and scope of stigma and access challenges vary by country. The toolkit will be presented at the CGF’s Sustainable Retail Summit in October, where retailers, manufacturers and service providers in the consumer goods industry will unravel key issues and global challenges around health and wellness and sustainability”.
The toolkit will also be presented at the Global Business Group on Health Forum meeting in October, where companies come together quarterly to benchmark and share solutions around the needs of global employees.
The global challenges around health and wellbeing in the workplace cannot be tackled alone. Kathleen O’Driscoll of the Global Business Group on Health said, “Mental health remains the primary focus area of GBGH member companies. For global employers looking to implement mental health strategy with locally relevant programs, understanding what is available and effective in-country is challenging. Employers need resources such as those this toolkit will provide to best enable sustainable success.”
The Global Business Group on Health is an organization of the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). GBGH’s partnership with CGF and GCMON is a reflection of NBGH’s commitment in the area of mental health. In a letter to NBGH members, Brian Marcotte, President and CEO of NBGH said, “We hope you will join us in elevating the conversation on mental health”.
Multi-stakeholder collaboration with individuals, employers, communities, policy makers and providers is key for not only knowledge sharing, but also to drive tangible actions in ensuring that the tools for positive mental health and wellbeing are made available and safeguarded. Going forward, the CGF, GBGH and GCMON seek to continue in our efforts to raise awareness around these global issues and drive positive change within this space.