Mental health in the workplace: World Mental Health Day

Written by 

Maël Adler

Trainee Corporate Communications

On 10 October, World Mental Health Day takes place across the globe. Initially established by the World Federation for Mental Health, its goal is to raise awareness for the importance of mental health with regard to the general wellbeing of the public. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Mental Health as “a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.” Every year on 10 October, the World Mental Health Day focuses on the opportunity for individuals, communities, organisations and governments to enhance know-how, raise awareness and support initiatives that protect and promote the mental health of the global population. Mental health is a universal human right.

In 1992, the World Federation for Mental Health started to incorporate the World Mental Health Day in their agenda to raise awareness about the critical mental health programmes. Mental health issues affect individuals all around the globe which is why overcoming those issues and improving one’s mental health is a universal human right. To accentuate the importance of psychological wellbeing, mental health is also integrated in several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The importance of mental health in corporate settings

Not only aspects of one’s private life can influence their mental wellbeing, but also their working environment. Various social, environmental, geopolitical and economic circumstances can take a toll on the mental health of individuals and communities. For this reason, the WHO recommends a community-based health care “which is more accessible and acceptable than institutional care, helps prevent human rights violations and delivers better recovery outcomes for people with mental health conditions.”

Why does community-based health care matter for companies? Essentially, employees are part of a work-related community with its corporate culture – a community created by the simple fact of working for the same employer. However, the impact of community involved employees is by no means simple, nor irrelevant. Employee engagement plays a key role in the perception and impact of an individual’s job on their wellbeing. The more an employee is engaged in their work environment, the more positive their profession’s impact on their mental health.

The five pillars of employee wellbeing

Gallup discovered in a survey that employee engagement lies at the heart of the employees’ wellbeing. Both are mutually influential. Gallup, an analytics and advisory organisation based in the US, defines employee engagement as “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace”. Engaged employees more likely see their work environment as a positive impact on their mental health and general wellbeing.

The research company identified five key factors that enhance employee wellbeing, directly impacting their engagement at work. These include:

  1. Empowering employees to excel in their roles and foster their wellbeing by indicating commitment.
  2. Promoting a sense of purpose, recognition, and achievement, which contributes to better mental health.
  3. Building trust through effective communication of the company's strategy in addressing challenges.
  4. Showing authentic care for employees' wellbeing to strengthen their mental health.
  5. Encouraging a steady connection between the workforce and the organisation's culture to improve mental health outcomes.

The power of actions over words

With a global presence and a diverse workforce, including colleagues from various cultural backgrounds, HUBER+SUHNER recognises that employees in different regions may encounter distinct mental health challenges at work. Hence, our focus topic “Occupational health and safety” not only includes physical wellbeing, but also our colleagues’ mental health.

Across the world, HUBER+SUHNER takes initiative in fostering the wellbeing and sense of community between our colleagues. Several countries have programmes in place to strengthen our common ground and sense of purpose.

Every year during the month of May, our colleagues from the US dedicate their efforts to mental health awareness, recognising its significance in the workplace. This year, our Swiss and American colleagues gathered for regular Yoga sessions to unwind and focus on their mental health as well as their physical wellbeing. At HUBER+SUHNER India yoga sessions are a long-established habit: “The 10,000-step challenge and the daily yoga from HUBER+SUHNER are great initiatives. I tried being an active part of these programmes and observed good results for myself – both physically and mentally – which is very essential for a happy life”, Sriharsha Kanigolla, Software Developer at HUBER+SUHNER, Bangalore shared with us.

Engaging in community activities serves as a great tool to foster the sense of purpose and accomplishment in lager groups. Sports competitions such as the “Bike to work” challenge in Switzerland, where colleagues team up every year for a month, are a great incentive to promote togetherness and sense of achievement. Our colleagues in France organised a clean-up day this year, freeing the office premises of recyclable and non-recyclable waste. 

In India we have a mentorship programme in place since 2016 that pairs a young trainee or apprentice with more experienced peers. “Being a mentor can build confidence. This confidence helps boost both professional and personal self-worth”, Bijay Kumar, Production Engineer at HUBER+SUHNER in Gurgaon reflects on the programme.

The mental health of our colleagues across the globe is a matter close to our hearts and embedded in our daily activities as well as our Corporate Responsibility material topics. Through our leadership principles, HUBER+SUHNER also fosters psychological safety and embraces individual strengths and backgrounds. Participating in community involvement activities such as the ones mentioned makes HUBER+SUHNER a safe space and enables our work environment to have a positive impact on our wellbeing – not only physical, but also with regards to mental health.