BusinessDay

Experts call for promotion of mental health awareness in workplace

In a move to help employees living with stress, emotional and physiological instability regain their mental balance, experts have called for the promotion of mental health and wellbeing awareness in the workplace.

The experts, who spoke at the Dive In event themed ‘Breaking the Taboo: Mental Health and Wellbeing in the workplace’ affirmed the importance of creating a mentally aware and friendly workplace, for an enabling environment.

“As an employer, you can be an agent of change by becoming aware of mental health and educating your staff on it, creating clear structures for employees who might need help,” said Chioma Fakorede, executive director, Olamma Cares Foundation.

“Creating a positive work environment that would reduce stress, burnout, be understanding and flexible to the needs of your employees and have zero tolerance to discrimination and stigma,” Fakorede said.

Also, Gloria Agugua, head of human resources, Heirs Insurance during a panel discussion said lack of awareness of mental health and fear of stigmatization at the workplace persist as barriers to wellbeing.

She noted that the barriers can trigger a set of reactions that are catastrophic to business progression, stressing the need for organizations to create mental health awareness, modify workplace risk factors that can trigger stress, and institute a culture that promotes well-being.

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“When an employee struggles with mental health challenges and his or her organization decides to turn a blind eye, it comes back to affect business outcomes,” she said.

“This is why organizations need to create mental health awareness; modify workplace risk factors that can trigger stress; institute an organizational culture that promotes wellbeing; eradicate stigma and encourage open-minded conversations about mental health in the workplace; and most importantly, be understanding and flexible to the needs of the employee, and listen and respond with empathy.”

Discussing the role that Dive In has played in ensuring diversity and inclusion practices which now accommodate discussions about mental health and wellness in the Nigerian Insurance industry, Omokunbi Adeoti, chief people experience office, Leadway Group stated, “Just like in other years, Dive In continues to lead globally prioritized discussions, conveying appropriate actions and adopting cultural nuances that facilitate the acceptance of the platform’s goodwill and message of change.”

Adeoti spoke on the framework that would help employers and also employees recognize the different phases in an employee’s mental health struggles and help map out an organization’s path to action by employers looking to recognize, respond, refer and reconnect.

She called for collaboration among stakeholders to break the traditional taboo that prevents employees from speaking up when they struggle with mental health challenges.

During the panel discussion, the three reputable speakers touched on important points from the Dive In 2022 Nigerian Insurance industry survey, gleaning insights from data and trends captured in the survey report.

This set the foundation for conversations around mental health triggers in the workplace, signs of mental health struggles, and the role of the organization and society in embracing employees’ mental health struggles and creating enabling environments for balanced well-being.

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