Why brands must build a nurturing working environment post-pandemic to address mental health

We need to raise awareness of and support mental health and wellbeing at work, says Prince

Fran Prince, Head of Communications at Champions UK plc, explains the need to create a supportive work culture following the mental health pressures caused by living and working through COVID-19.

We live in a world where mental health is no longer a taboo subject, and discussing the topic openly and confidently has come on leaps and bounds over the years. So, with that in mind, people – both consumers and employees – are opening up about their struggles, recognising them, and, as a result, are actively trying to deal with them. 

Brands and businesses need to acknowledge that mental health is just as important as physical health. Now, they need to do much more than simply understand; they must address mental health within their marketing messaging. Gone are the days of brushing mental health under the carpet, and now, the previously taboo topic is more or less front and centre, both online and offline.  

Because people have worked so hard to break the stigma surrounding mental health, we are inundated with mental health campaigns across social media and terrestrial TV. And whilst this is great and incredibly crucial when raising awareness, we also need to turn our words into actions, which begins in the workplace. 

Creating a nurturing working environment 

Brands and businesses are doing a fine job discussing mental health with their consumers, but they also need to focus on their employees, as without them, they wouldn’t exist. So, it is crucial to actively take care of and look after the mental health of all members of staff

And now, given the effects of the coronavirus pandemic throughout the last year or so, it is no surprise that people’s mental health has continued to suffer, particularly within the workplace. 

For many, it has been a year of uncertainty surrounding their jobs. From furlough to fear of redundancy, it has been a difficult year for almost everyone, leaving many with anxiety and deeper feelings of worry. 

Remove work from the equation entirely, and it has still been a rather terrifying year. People have been kept apart from loved ones, gone through times of loss and loneliness, and have experienced ill-health, so it is only natural for people to experience difficulties with their mental health.  

Even those that don’t typically suffer from mental health will find themselves feeling one way or another about returning to work and resuming normal life. It’s a lot to deal with and will take some readjusting.  

And with that in mind, brands and businesses must be working hard to ensure that they support their employees, providing them with a safe and nurturing environment to return to.  

It can be as simple as regularly communicating with your team, encouraging them to check in with one another, developing a strong workplace culture, and creating opportunities for discussion.  

As the theme for this year’s Mental Health Week was nature, it is only right to mention that the surroundings of a workplace are also something for business owners to consider.  

With many people seeking to be close by to rural views and greenery, providing the opportunity to get some much-needed fresh air during the day means the location of office space is also of importance. 

Brands doing it well 

Some several high-profile brands and businesses actively support mental health, both internally and externally. More businesses understand the importance of taking care of employees and in ways that may not have been done before. And so they should. 

Brands and businesses must continue to focus on employee and consumer full-body health, including mental health and wellbeing.  

Gymshark is a great example of promoting employee health and wellbeing. And just recently, the gym wear brand cancelled all meetings, encouraging employees to take the day to focus on themselves and their wellbeing, creating a virtual reality world event. 

Taking their support a step further, the brand also launched Gymshark Deload, a mental health initiative with The Mix charity. Encouraging young people to focus on their mental wellbeing, Deload provides content, stories, and advice from experts and professionals. 

Similarly, innocent drinks are renowned for much more than their incredibly witty marketing campaigns but for taking good care of their staff, too. Paying special attention to their employee’s mental health, the brand has a number of things in place to ease stress and promote a positive mental headspace, including free gym membership, a yoga club, and a 24/7 confidential assistance programme. 

ITV has also followed suit with their latest campaign Britain Get Talking, which is described as a mental wellness initiative to help Britain stay connected. With a podcast and TV’s biggest stars also getting involved, ITV’s campaign is aimed at its employees and its audience and is a true reflection of how they address mental health in both the workplace and its marketing messaging. 

The future of mental health in the workplace 

Now more than ever, it is pivotal for brands and businesses to place the mental health and wellbeing of both employees and consumers at the forefront of their work. And the first step in doing so is to create a supportive and nurturing working environment, particularly after the effects of the last year.  It will take some time for people to readjust to life post-pandemic, so it is important for brands and businesses to accept that. 


Fran Prince is Head of Communications at brand agency Champions UK.

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