By Keith Anderson
From the way we work, shop, travel and socialise, Covid-19 has impacted our lives in ways we could never have envisaged. Across the country people are contending with uncertainty, unprecedented levels of restrictions on our daily routines, limited contact with family and friends and the stress of juggling the demands of home and working life.
As a business we can be proud of the role we have played in helping steer the country through a moment of acute crisis. From the provision of flexible payment options for customers to ensuring the safety, security and resilience of power supplies to hospitals, care homes and other healthcare facilities, ScottishPower has played a prominent role in the national effort against the virus.
Despite our collective achievements this year, we should not lose sight of the fact that 2020 has been a year of upheaval and anxiety for many. Now, more than ever, it is important for business leaders to recognise the importance of mental health provision in the workplace and to encourage an open conversation about wellbeing. After all, our success is driven by our dedicated employees.
I am proud of the fact that mental health is a major focus for ScottishPower. Prior to the onset of the pandemic the business worked closely with See Me Scotland to develop an in-depth employee survey which prompted honest, detailed and very personal responses. This has been supplemented by regular check ins throughout the pandemic which will help to inform our future approach to wellbeing. And as we approach World Mental Health Day, we will build upon this by promoting Time to Change’s powerful ‘Ask Twice’ campaign.
The Covid-19 crisis has certainly brought the issue of mental health into sharp focus; however, it is also worth taking a minute to reflect on the cost of poor mental health prior to the pandemic. The Stevenson-Farmer Review’s seminal Thriving at Work report – published three years ago this month – found that one in four workers will be diagnosed with a mental health condition in their lifetime.
The cost to UK businesses, the report concluded, amounts to a staggering £33bn-£42bn. The wider cost to the UK economy amounts to 2% of GDP. Not only is there a clear-cut human case to act, there is a clear-cut business case too.
This World Mental Health Day, we should all reflect on what more we can do. From the establishment of our Employee Assistance Helpline to the provision of training for Mental Health First Aiders, , ScottishPower has come a long way on mental health and we can be proud of that fact.
Nevertheless, there is a long way to go and continued collaboration between Government, the third sector and the private sector is required if the UK is to set the gold-standard in our approach to workplace wellbeing. No single organisation can achieve this in isolation.
There exists a consensus that, as we emerge from the immediate Covid crisis, we should aim to ‘build back better’. This laudable aim should not simply extend to ensuring a sustainable future for our planet in the long-term, it should also mean tackling mental health discrimination in the here and now. ScottishPower will continue to play our part in this critically important mission.