Health and Healthcare Systems

An open letter to business leaders: Now is the time to address the global mental health crisis together

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This article is part of: The Davos Agenda

While 2020 is now behind us, the pandemic remains – as do the many challenges it has brought or aggravated in our societies. As we look ahead to the coming year, it is clear that as business leaders we will need to continue to both adapt to the new realities brought on by COVID-19 and support our employees through some trying times ahead.

This is particularly true when it comes to poor mental health, an issue that preceded the pandemic but has been made considerably worse for many through the social isolation and additional daily pressures that the virus has caused.

We know that a rising number of people suffer from poor mental health, with Gen Zs and Millennials particularly affected – indeed, the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020 found that nearly half of those surveyed feel stressed or anxious all or most of the time; and the pandemic has only served to exacerbate this trend. According to the World Health Organization, two of the most common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety, cost the global economy $1 trillion each year.

Despite this stark picture, mental health remains low down the list of priorities for many workplaces. This can have a wide-range of negative effects on employees, which manifests in a loss of employee engagement, customer satisfaction and productivity for businesses.

For those companies that recognise mental health as a priority, there remains a lack of accessible information as to the methods that are most effective when it comes to mental health in the workplace.

Mental health is another global health crisis. And for global progress to be made, mental health in the workplace must be a priority for all business leaders globally.

We believe now is the time to take urgent, collective action.

This is why we have come together and created the Global Business Collaboration (GBC) for Better Workplace Mental Health. Through it, we are building a global community of businesses whose mission is to advocate for – and accelerate – positive change for mental health in the workplace on a global basis.

We are a true collaboration between business and their employees, experts (including those with lived experience), mental health alliances, and not-for-profit organizations including the World Economic Forum. Together, we are working toward shaping a mentally healthy future for all by:

  • Creating a platform for collaboration that will connect world business leaders to address poor mental health and stigma in the workplace across the globe.
  • Raising awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace to increase the recognition of the benefits of good mental health for organisations.
  • Facilitating the adoption of best practice by sharing knowledge and tools suitable for both large and small businesses.

Today, we’re inviting visionary leaders of all businesses – large or small, whether in a single country or across many – to sign the Leadership Pledge and join us in driving the change needed.

Our vision for this Global Business Collaboration is to create a world where all workplace leaders recognise the importance of their employees’ mental health - where they have access to the right tools and take tangible action that enables their workforces to thrive.

Tackling the stigma of mental health in the workplace will also help reduce stigma in our local communities, improving the lives of employees, their families and friends.

The future rests on healthy minds. Join us today and help us lead the change the world needs in workplace mental health.

List of signatories (as of 21 January 2021):

Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte Global

Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever

Noel Quinn, Group Chief Executive of HSBC

Mike Henry, CEO of BHP

Matthew Layton, Managing Partner of Clifford Chance

Marc Benioff, Chair, CEO and Co-founder of Salesforce

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Health and Healthcare SystemsStakeholder CapitalismForum Institutional
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