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Marianne O'Sullivan's column for the Journal, 9th October 2020

 

World Mental Health day on 10th October has never been more important with the current health and economic pressures on everyone’s mental health.

Many areas in the North East are facing increased restrictions meaning people may be unable to physically meet with friends or family as well as facing increased financial pressure.

Poor mental health is strongly associated with social and economic circumstances including unemployment, housing insecurity and living in poverty. As the economic impact of Covid is felt unevenly in society we may see a widening of pre-existing inequalities in mental health.

Research published by the Centre for Mental Health research in October has highlighted that 20% of adults and 15% of children could need help with their mental health because of the pandemic. We will need to see funding to equip services for the anticipated increase in demand, and to make access easier for anyone who needs it.

Insights into the mental health of business owners have come from Chamber member MMC who carried out a survey between May and June. Of those who responded 54% said their mental health was worse than before Covid with concerns around financial worries, responsibility of staff and work/life balance. 48% reported trouble sleeping and 41% drinking more alcohol. On a positive note 61% received peer support from other business owners which helped them adapt to the pandemic and provided support.

Money is often recurring stress trigger in many people’s lives, employees that are suffering financial stress are almost 13 times more likely to be unable to complete daily tasks and take one sick day per year over financial stress. At the Chamber we have worked with our partner member Brewin Dolphin to highlight the importance of financial wellbeing, taking preventative measures such as ensuring employees all have access to financial advice can help to reduce stress.

We all have the chance to show kindness on World Mental Health day, if not all year round.North East-based Concern group is running the Take 10 campaign from 10 October, to help them offer support for more people in the region. People are asked to send a 10 second video showing what they do to look after their mental health as part of a fundraising drive.

Here at the Chamber we will continue with our webinars looking at how employers can look after the wellbeing of their staff in these times and offering peer to peer support for businesses helping people to adapt to changing circumstances.