Humans are social animals, and we tend to suffer if we do not get enough social contact. In fact, a large volume of the calls to our helpline over the course of the pandemic have been to do with the consequences of isolation, where the lack of social connection has led to a dip in mental health. This need for connection does not stop when you enter the workplace – in fact, there is an argument that the need for this connection increases. The World Health Organization estimates that the common mental health issues of anxiety and depression cost more than £700 billion per year in lost productivity worldwide. They key to a mentally well and productive workforce is a strong sense of social bonds and cohesion within the workplace – mentoring is a fantastic way to achieve this.
Mentoring offers opportunities for people to interact on a deeper level and connect, often amongst people who might not normally cross paths. This kind of connection in the workplace fights feelings of isolation, forms friendships, and creates higher levels of engagement. What’s more, mentors that are trained to spot the signs of ill mental health are in a fantastic position to both support their mentees, as they can intervene early before ill mental health spirals into something serious. Successful mentoring forms trusting relationships between mentors and mentees that creates an atmosphere of psychological safety. This opens the door for honest and open discussion of sensitive or difficult topics that may be causing emotional stress. In this environment, mentees who have personal or work-related issues can turn to their mentors for support and advice.
Then there is the element of inclusivity that good mentorship beings. Work can be an alienating environment, particularly if you are a new joiner or in a fresh role. Mentorship helps to create feelings of togetherness and inclusion, especially when it is integrated into broader diversity training. This can create an environment of acceptance and empathetic support where employees can feel free to bring their authentic selves to work, either in person or virtually. In this kind of atmosphere, employees are encouraged to speak up about issues of bias or microaggression so they can feel heard and supported.
What this all underscores is the link between employee wellbeing, team cohesion and productivity. That is why we have reinvented and revamped our training, support and ambassadorship programmes so as to support the needs of employees and employers alike. From mental health awareness training, to managerial support and Mental Health First Aid – our training resources are a valuable, tangible and effective way to show your commitment to mental health at work. If you have not already done so, it is up to you as an employer to take preventative and proactive action to maintain your employees’ healthy mental wellbeing. The reward for getting this right is a happier, healthier and more productive workforce, and a more successful organisation.