A top total wellbeing, mental wellbeing, and digital mental health services provider, Morneau Shepell, recently released its Mental Health Index report stating the trend of mental health in the nation during the seven-month pandemic lockdown. The report however revealed a negative trend in the mental health of Britons over the period

Morneaux Shepell is a wellbeing company that bought LifeWorks in 2018 and is a top tech-augmented human resource service provider that delivers an integrated wellbeing approach through a cloud-based platform.

According to the monthly study report, the mental health index for October is 13.4, indicating that the nation’s mental health is at severe risk with dramatic reduction in the workplace productivity. It also catalysts the need for mental health support, especially because of the continual strain of the covid19.

The mental health Index measures the increase or decrease in mental health using the pre-2020 benchmark (75) and was discovered to be significantly lower than the September Index with (-12.0). This trend is shown across the sub-scores recorded in the Mental Health Index such as financial risk with 3.8, psychological health -4.2, isolation (-11.6), psychological health (-4.2), anxiety (-15.9), depression (-15.9) and optimism (-18.2).

By the extension of pandemic strain, nearly 40% of the population reported that they need mental health support. Twenty percent of the population reported to need most mental health support from their families, fourteen percent reported needing mental health support from their either friend or co-workers, and only four percent reported needing support from professionals. In addition, ten percent indicated mental health support but haven’t sought any. Moreover, this group indicated having the lowest mental health score of -36.5.

Workplace productivity was found to have declined in seven months since the pandemic

Between September and October, workplace productivity decreased from -11.8 to -11.0. As it became compulsory for employees to work remotely, flexibility of work schedule helped them stay motivated. Among 79% of the study participants, 35% indicated that flexible work hours enhanced their work productivity. This group, thus, had the highest mental health index score of -12.1 as compared to the respondents who reported that flexible work hours didn’t increase productivity (-28.7).

In the UK, remote work continues to pose a serious threat to the working population, particularly with the new lockdown imposed having effect across the country – Philip Mullen who is the managing director in the UK and Europe. “Employees having increasing flexibility that accommodate their unique and changing nature of their needs are found to be responding more positively than others who do not have.

This clearly shows that it is critical to maintain a reasonable level of flexibility to not just enhance the UK workforce’s mental health, but also boost employees’ productivity, motivation and business continuity.

Salary cuts more disadvantaged to Workers’ mental health than unemployment or reduced work hours

While nearly 96% of the respondents were employed, about 17% reported they had either reduced work hours or salary cuts since April 2020. Employed workers with reduced salaries when compared with the month prior to the pandemic and lockdown, had the lowest mental health score with -21.8. And this is followed by those with lower hours having mental health score of -19.9. The unemployed also have low mental health scores of -15.1. Also, aside from working for lesser work hours, 40% of the respondents were putting more effort into their works.

Paula Allen and senior vice president of research, analytics and innovation noted that: “continual feeling of uncertainty felt by the workforce among the UK population has significant impact on their long term mental health both within and without the work environment.” “Employees are showing more vigor and motivation and willingness to contribute more to production. But this is the responsibility of the government to provide more support and ensure that mental health of the people are seen as critical as much as physical health.

What is Shepell’s Mental Health Index?

Morneau Shepell monthly survey is an English online survey that was conducted between 28th September to October 19, 2020. It was conducted using a sample of 2000 respondents in the United Kingdom who were employed with the previous six months before the survey. The survey ensured regional and gender variables were included to ensure statistical significance of the result. The Mental Health Index is a monthly report that began publication in April 2020 and is evaluated against previous mental health data for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019 in the UK. The UK report can be found on Morneau Shepell’s report link here.