Is loneliness a matter of diversity and inclusion?

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK with a focus on loneliness. Studies have shown that loneliness has spiked during major national lockdowns, but still has not returned to pre-epidemic levels, and that loneliness continues to disproportionately affect disadvantaged groups. We spoke with Adah Parris, an advertising industry veteran and mental health first aid expert, about equality and loneliness. And I’ve checked with some industry figures trying to make a difference.

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness.

Charitable organizations and think tanks have published many studies that make for a grim read. while work remains determinant of loneliness, this news is bad for workers or employers. Mental Health UK reports that on a typical working day 1 in 5 of us feel: lonely at work. They report that loneliness is not evenly spread across the workforce. Younger people (ages 18-24) are twice as likely to report being lonely than others.

Data from the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) shows the trend to pre-epidemic levels, however, they did find demographic risk factors for loneliness, including caregivers, ethnic community origins, and LGBTQ+ people. People who are in good health for a long time are still experiencing high levels of loneliness since the outbreak of the pandemic. “Young tenants who have little trust or a sense of belonging to their area” are a risk group.

In 2017, the Co-op and New Economics Foundation reduced the cost of loneliness. £2.5 billion per year (about $3 billion). The latest Bureau of Statistics data backed by MHF this week found that 7% of adults in the UK often or always feel lonely. About 3.7 million British adults. not hard to find Furthermore amazing result.

part of the solution

Five years ago, Vivek Murthy, a former US military surgeon, ranks loneliness as the most prevalent health condition in the United States, as follows:part of the problem.” What can employers and colleagues do as part of the solution?

Adah Parris, chairman of Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA), says the first step is to be aware of the ongoing loneliness epidemic and the widespread mental health epidemic. “We were in survival mode. Now we have to thrive.”

Parris says the absolute standard in business is to be able to recognize that “we all experience mental health fluctuations and sometimes we need more support with them.” Whether it’s a crisis or a small moment, responding to these fluctuations always starts with one thing. To create an environment that encourages and stigmatizes conversations about mental health.

But we may be doing worse than the early days of the pandemic. Parris, citing MHFA’s own study, said, “When the pandemic began, the conversation about mental health and well-being increased. But they started to fall.”

In some organizations, “adequate levels of attention, attention, and expectations” fell as hybrid work normalized as open communication channels decreased, especially for younger employees who were at greater risk of isolation and loneliness. To make matters worse, their study reveals a huge gap between “what CEOs and leadership believe is really happening – they believe they’re doing really well – and the people who are actually supported.” As reported by MHFA, 48% of staff did not have wellness check-in last year. – Increase from 25% in 2021.

There are so many demographic risk factors, Parris says, that deploying loneliness treatment requires understanding and responding to these risk factors. “We see mental health as a matter of social justice,” she said clearly. For young people living in shared rental housing, loneliness will be different. For parents who combine work and parenting; leaders facing the burden of payroll; And from marginalized groups of people who struggle to feel isolated or comfortable at work because of their differences.

“Everyone suffers from trauma, anxiety and all sorts of things,” Paris said. “Some people are more marginalized. And there are different levels of power and oppression. It’s important to get people to talk and make people aware of this, regardless of where they are in the organization.”

“Everything is connected,” she says. “We are individually multifaceted and versatile. We have different life experiences. That is what makes this industry potentially rich and beautiful.”

More fit, happier, more productive.

As they say, step 1 is to recognize the problem. “Many business leaders see well-being as a ‘soft’ side of their business,” said Mike Petricevic, creative partner at Waste Creative. It’s possible. Or if you don’t care about other ‘obscure’ things like productivity, retention or profitability, you can.”

Lonely workers are less productive and less engaged. You are five times more likely to be absent from work. And now 54% of remote workers feel that their relationships with colleagues are meaningless because of the coronavirus.”

Flexibility to the needs of different groups is part of the solution. Some institutions are taking more radical steps. Recognizing that physical activity is a key driver of mental health, creative boutique Seven Stones built a gym in the center of their office. A small group of 20 employees has permanent access to the gym. They also do walking meetings and recommend using the conference room as a meeting space and personal training studio.

No one is suggesting that a gym at work can solve your loneliness problem. But, according to Russell, precautions along with countermeasures can help reduce the burden.

Managing Director Dan Russell said, “We know that well-being at work is related to an individual’s state of physical and emotional energy. “People need to feel that they have enough physical and emotional energy to meet the requirements of their role. One thing that is often missed on the workday while affecting these energy levels is physical activity.”

Russell goes on to say, “A healthy mind is more creative. “Physical activity helps your ideas flow more freely, enriching your creativity.”

This piece was created as a collaboration between Mental Health First Aid England and The Drum Network.


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