We were delighted to attend leading International Employee Assistance Programme provider, Morneau Shepell’s, 10th annual Employers Connect event this week. In the UK, Morneau Shepell also operate as ‘Lifeworks’ a UK brand which they requires a number of years ago.

This was their first virtual event, held across their key global locations, and they took the opportunity to provide some fascinating insight into research which they have been conducting over the last year, using their Mental Health Index – more on that further down.

The event was hosted by Stephen Liptrap, President & CEO and Paula Allen, Global Leader, Research and Total Wellbeing.

Stephen opened the event, commenting;

“We’re experiencing a global mental health pandemic. In less than one year, mental health has emerged as one of the top business issues around the world…. It’s an opportunity to act on what we have always knows to be true; happy, healthy and engaged people are the key to building a high performing workforce, and resilient organisations”

“Mental health issues have never been more acute, but we also have more data, a strong will to make a change, and clear evidence that what employers do makes a difference.”

Morneau Shepell launched their Mental Health Index (MHI) almost a year ago, in April 2020, which is updated monthly to provide a measure of the state of people’s mental health around the world (notably the US, Canada, UK and Australia). We were encouraged to think of the Index akin to the monthly CPI or RPI data we measure our economies on, but for mental health. Paula Allen, then took us through some of the key findings which we will summarise below and in the coming articles;

2020: a waterhead moment in mental health

The impact of the pandemic on the mind has been significant. Generally, stress inducing situations present you with a degree of control; moving house, having a baby, your job etc.. However, the pandemic delivers massive change with no control, impacts include;

  • Loss of sense of control / security
  • Uncertainty
  • Increased isolation
  • Heightened vigilance
  • Increased care and concern for others

Typically, there is a predicable way that people respond to crisis

  1. Shock, denial and confusion
  2. Heroics – quick decision making, massive effort to react quickly – but this is not sustainable
  3. Disillusionment, fatigue, burnout – generally this is where most of us are now
  4. Short term adjustment – if we have the right support we have, or can, move here. However, this Is not guaranteed. If we do not act it can result in a longer term detriment.
  5. Longer term adaption

Recovery from crisis is not guaranteed:

Risks include:

  • Temporary coping strategies such as alcohol and food
  • Peoples thinking styles can change – Catastrophizing, unrelenting anxiety
  • Overwhelming anger, feelings of helplessness
  • Lack of action or opportunity for mental recovery
  • Delaying physical / mental health care
  • Isolation and lack of social support

Morneau Shepell have seen trends in their data which show that people who have anger as their primary reaction, have been struggling more than most and they have been doing worse over time. People whose primary emotion is gratitude, focussing on what they have, what they can do, and recognition and appreciation of others, have experienced mental health which has been improved through this crisis.

What we do now is going to make a huge difference is how we move forward.

Mental Health Index (MHI)

The MHI has been three years in the planning. Benchmark data was collected between 2017 – 2019 with the Index launched in April 2020.

The Index offers a clear measure of mental health in the working population, over time. It polled a representative national sample in four key countries;

US: 5,000

Canada: 3,000

UK: 2,0000

Australia: 1,000

MHI data is collected and published monthly and is the source of the data in the insights which follow. We have broken down the findings into four articles;

Morneau Shepell; MHI – The Pandemic’s impact on mental health & productivity

Morneau Shepell; MHI – The importance of Financial Wellbeing

Morneau Shepell; MHI – The Pandemic’s impact on Managers

Morneau Shepell; MHI – Key findings and further information

Morneau Shepell are a leading provider of International Employee Assistance Programmes. These Global EAP’s allow businesses to provide a consistent level of mental health support to employees, across multiple international locations. You can find out more about Global EAP’s here;

Find more information on the full range of International Employee Benefits here

Find more information on International Business Health Insurance here