The Middle East Public Relations Association recently conducted a survey to understand the impact of Covid-19 on the mental health and wellbeing, of the region’s PR professionals. The survey which comprised of 108 respondents from the MEPRA group, revealed some alarming findings.
- The number of respondents who suffer from stress tripled during the lockdown.
- 38% of respondents don’t feel well supported about their health and wellbeing at work.
- Only 48% of organizations currently have a wellness program in place to support their employees’ mental wellbeing.
- 51% of respondents cited anxiety and panic as the prime challenges they’re facing during the lockdown period.
Communicate spoke with Jonty Summers, Chairman of the MEPRA Group to understand more about these findings and what initiatives the group has introduced in response to it.
Has WFH played a role in the increase in anxiety and stress levels of employees in the industry?
[Based on the survey results,] 22% of respondents stated that working from home was linked to heightened levels of anxiety and stress. Even though it wasn’t one of the top three triggers, we can’t ignore the fact that a change in the working environment and lack of social connection for employees- may result in an increased need for mental health support.
How is the MEPRA group responding to this situation?
MEPRA is working with several mental health professionals to develop the MEPRA Workplace Wellness Program, which will be launched next month. The program, which will be expanded on, will begin with providing a toolkit for managers- to assist them in understanding the importance of workplace wellness, and how to support employees with mental health challenges. The program also includes a free webinar series, which will include sessions for managers and employees on how to manage mental health challenges; and a free support service for anyone who is facing mental health challenges, to be connected with a mental health professional.
Mental health has been a heavy topic of discussion even before the pandemic. Why the need for the program now?
Businesses are facing enormous changes as a result of the pandemic and the survey clearly shows that our industry is facing a challenging time. According to the survey, anxiety and stress levels tripled since the COVID-19 outbreak, with concerns about work, finances, and family creating the perfect storm for serious mental health issues that we need to address. [Till now,] we’ve [only] been concerned with keeping our employees physically healthy, but our survey shows that the issue of mental health is [also] of equal importance, and we need to support them through this crisis and beyond.
Why haven’t companies taken more initiative to respond to the situation in the region?
Almost half of our survey respondents stated that their company had a wellness program in place. 46% of organizations are checking in on their team’s wellbeing, from once per week to every day, so we know that mental health is on top of mind for most business leaders in our industry. Some organizations may not have the resources in place to implement a program and others may be focusing on the physical health of their employees- that’s why we would like to step in as the region’s industry body, to help even more organizations be equipped to support, and maintain the mental wellbeing of their team members.