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The mind concept – the WELL building standard

workplace wellbeingAs part of Mental Health Awareness week we spoke with our WELL consultant Martin Anderson to gain his thoughts on how employers can help promote mental health and workplace wellbeing as the new “normal” starts to take place.

“As a WELL AP one of my roles is to help companies understand the importance of promoting mental health and workplace wellbeing, and to assist them to develop ways of working that will shape and encourage good mental health and bring positive outcomes for all.

In the middle of the current pandemic, and with Governments around the world imposing strict lock down policies, the mental health of the population is a major talking point. Millions of people across the globe are being deprived of their normal way of life, of interactions with family and friends, of daily routines and of, not, going to work. Financial strains and the inability to forward plan (holidays etc.) can take its toll and suddenly the small things become huge obstacles!

We have known for many years that mental health is a fundamental component of human health across the world and it is vital for our physical, emotional and social well-being and for the communities and societies in which we live. Mental health is determined by a range of socioeconomic, biological and environmental factors such as work conditions, lifestyle and health behaviours. Pre-pandemic it has been estimated that around 18 percent of the adult population will experience a common mental health condition (anxiety, depression or substance abuse) over the course of any year but what could those rates be now and why is this important?

Around two thirds of those in employment will be affected in some way and there is a direct cost to the economy in terms of lost productivity and sickness apart from the immense social cost if we do not address it. Increasingly, the built environment can serve as a powerful tool to mitigate adverse mental health. Therefore, companies that adopt strategies to help their employees cope and better manage their health, are not only helping their employees but, with resilient, healthy and happier staff, they are putting themselves at a competitive commercial advantage too!

The Mind Concept, in the WELL Building Standard, sets out several positive interventions from the promotion of mental health itself, the influences of nature/biophilia, the idea of restorative spaces and ways to manage and reduce stress. All of which, with thought and good design, can be achieved with minimum cost but with maximum impact.

Companies with a strong commitment to promoting mental health and well-being will thrive as the new “normal” takes shape.”