How to create a mind healthy workplace?

The success of your team is inextricably linked to their mind health at work. Here we share the latest research and explain how you can work with your people to improve their wellbeing and empower them to thrive. 

To say that the last two years have been difficult would be an understatement. COVID-19 had a profound effect on every aspect of our day-to-day lives, and one of its most significant and lasting impacts has been on our mental wellbeing. Now that day-to-day restrictions have been lifted, the after-effects are perhaps being most keenly felt in our working lives.

While there are undoubtedly benefits to remote and hybrid working models, they can also have a negative impact on our mind health by removing structure from the day and making us feel detached, inactive or isolated. At the same time, people are having less face-to-face contact with colleagues and employers, so it’s not as easy to recognise if someone is struggling.

To better understand the current state of mind health, and to identify ways of improving the wellbeing of employees in this new working landscape, AXA has developed the Mind Health & Wellbeing Study 2022. With 11,000 participants from 11 European and Asian countries, this is the largest mental health study AXA has ever conducted. It examines attitudes and stigmas towards mind health issues and provides insight into how we can all improve our happiness and wellbeing.

Now we’re talking

Key findings from the study indicate that the UK has the highest prevalence of mental health conditions in Europe. Nearly a quarter of the people we surveyed in the UK said they were struggling, while around two in five said that they suffered from a mental health condition 1

While these are concerning figures, one positive to have emerged from the pandemic is that many of us have a better awareness of our overall wellbeing and the importance of mind health. In fact, our study shows that the UK is leading the way when it comes to talking about mental health issues, and around half of UK-based respondents said that they believe stigma around the subject is declining because of the pandemic. But there’s still a long way to go. 

Working together for better mind health

With such significant changes taking place in our working lives, employers and line-managers will play a vital role in improving the wellbeing of the nation. Employees who feel supported at work are over 50% more likely to be happy and almost twice as likely to flourish in their role1.

However, our survey found that only 40%1 of UK respondents currently believe they receive good mind health support from their employer. When employees are unduly stressed or don’t feel well supported, mental health issues can develop, which can have a knock-on effect on the performance of the business. It’s thought that 17.9 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2019-20202, and that number is likely to become even higher if we don’t tackle the extra challenges created by COVID-19. 

For small to medium-sized companies, it's more important than ever to have good wellbeing support in place.  Our research indicates that 61% of SME employees believe their happiness and wellbeing was negatively impacted by the pandemic1, and 41% of workers have experienced poor mental health symptoms due to work in the past year3

How does your team score on the Mind Health Index?

The Mind Health & Wellbeing Study uses various differentiators and factors to group individuals into one of four categories – Struggling, Languishing, Getting by and Flourishing. The main aim of the study is to discover and outline what’s needed to help people flourish and we’ve identified 10 essential skills that we all need in order to move towards the peak of mental wellbeing.

These skills include resilience, self-acceptance and the ability to develop close relationships. By improving in these areas, people can vastly improve their mental wellbeing and, when they have at least eight of these skills, they’re able to flourish. 

A great way to picture this progression is to imagine an Abacus with ten beads on each of its rungs. As an individual gains or improves upon a particular skill, another bead can be moved across to identify the progress that’s been made, and highlight where more effort is needed. An employee’s mind health category can therefore be illustrated by the number of beads that have been moved over. For a comprehensive overview of these 10 skills, and the four associated mind-health categories, as well as further insight, case studies and actionable advice, download our Mind Health & Wellbeing Study here 

For practical information and expert advice on promoting good mental wellbeing in your workplace, we’ve created the Small business guide to supporting mental health at work. It’s packed with ideas, talking points, useful tips and relevant services we can provide to help you support your team.

   Download the guide

To find out how you can support yourself and your team to be mind-healthy, call our small business experts on 0800 389 7413, and ask about our mental health cover and employee assistance programme options. 

Mental health cover is subject to medical history.

1 The AXA Study of Mind Health and Wellbeing in 2022
2 Health and Safety Executive, 2020
3 Mental Health at Work 2020: building back responsibly - Business in the Community, 2020