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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Cogan

Prioritizing Mental Health: Strategies for Remote Work Well-being

In the ever-evolving landscape of modern work, with its remote settings and digital connections, there is a profound shift in the dynamics of employee well-being. At Otonomee, we recognize that working from home has its challenges and can be isolating. By ensuring that we continuously prioritise Mental Health awareness and understanding we are not just dealing with employees but engaging with human beings that face unique challenges, we make sure we are prepared and proactive in our employees' well-being.

The workplace is where many of us spend a significant portion of our lives and the statistics on its effect on the mental well-being of employees speak volumes. A comprehensive 2022 Workplace Survey, as reported by Forbes, revealed that a staggering 92% of employees grapple with mental health challenges affecting their work. This isn't an isolated issue but an overarching concern that demands attention. The survey also highlights how employees place great importance on employer support for mental health, with 8 in 10 workers considering it a significant factor when evaluating job opportunities.

It's encouraging to see that 62% of employers have already prioritized workplace mental health, while 24% plan to make it a central focus moving forward. This shift signifies a growing awareness of the importance of mental well-being, not only for employees but for the organizations themselves.

Women looking into the distance

The Foundation of Well-being: Prevention and Protection

Preventing work-related mental health conditions is the first building block of mental well-being and revolves around managing psychosocial risks in the workplace. The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes the need for organizations to assess and mitigate workplace risks to mental health, modifying or removing them wherever possible. This involves implementing organisational interventions, such as flexible working arrangements and frameworks to address violence and harassment at work.

Beyond prevention, it's essential to protect and promote mental health at work. This means enhancing the capacity to recognise and respond to mental health conditions at work. For those in supervisory roles, like managers, training in mental health plays a crucial part. It equips managers with the skills to recognize emotional distress in their team, foster open communication, and actively listen to their employees' needs. This training provides an improved understanding of how job stressors affect mental health and how they can be managed.

At Otonomee, we have group of managers trained in Mental Health First Response and equipped with a diverse range of skills and insights, including understanding mental health, promoting positive mental health at work, identifying causes and effects and breaking stigmas.

Prioritizing Mental Health at Otonomee

At Otonomee, we recognize that remote work can sometimes lead to isolation. We are committed to our value "Build Personal Connection" and we proactively live and focus on this each day. Our recent observance of World Mental Health Day reinforced this commitment.

During our companywide townhall Comms Session, we introduced our Mental Health first responders and emphasised their role as confidential listeners and supporters. We discussed a quote that resonated with us from the first responder training ‘Good mental health isn't something you have, but something you do’. We encouraged self-care practices and introduced a "self-care menu" to help our team identify what serves their mental well-being.

Mental Health is a Priority quotes. Women jumping in the air.

This inspired the launch of our "Coffee & Connect" initiative on World Mental Health Day where we invited all employees to participate, encouraging them to go for a walk and have a coffee on us with a colleague or friend.

Building relationships and staying connected is not just good for our mental well-being; it's vital for our physical health too. Staying connected and building relationships usually leads to better mental and physical health outcomes and being out in natural sunlight is believed to increase serotonin and boost our moods. Our in-person connections complement the many online engagement initiatives and connection opportunities we create daily. We finished off our day with a guided meditation that allowed us to recentre and ground ourselves and take some time out to relax.

Our commitment to mental health extends beyond events like World Mental Health Day. We strive to normalize and encourage open conversations about mental health throughout the year as we are cognisant that 1 out of every 2 people in the world will develop a mental health disorder in their lifetime, according to a recent study published on Harvard Medical School. Our just cause as a company is to make a difference, no matter how great, no matter how small and we believe that these discussions and our commitment to mental well-being can create a better quality of life for our team and also enable us to make a positive impact on the communities we touch through our corporate social responsibility initiatives and partnership with B1G1.

The theme for this year's World Mental Health Day, "Mental health is a basic universal human right," resonates deeply with our values and commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Good Health and Well-being. Mental well-being isn't an option; it's a fundamental right, and we're determined to uphold it.

This blog serves as a reminder that mental health discussions should not be confined to special occasions. It's a year-round endeavour, and it's time for all of us to contribute to this important conversation.


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