07 October 2022

Mental health support must be fit for purpose, and take into account different global cultures, says Towergate Health & Protection

This World Mental Health Day, Towergate Health & Protection is encouraging employers to use the opportunity to ensure any mental health support they offer is fit for purpose, and to take into account global cultural differences.

Debra Clark, Head of Specialist Consulting, Towergate Health & Protection says: ‘The market is flooded with potential support that employers can offer their staff, from EAPs to in-patient psychiatric care, and it can be confusing for employers to know what to offer. We would urge employers not to take the first thing they’re offered or simply follow the current trend: if it’s not right for their staff, it won’t provide the support their staff need.

‘The starting point must be to talk to staff. Companies need to understand their particular workforce demographic, their mental resilience, and what mental health risks they face. They need to ask employees what they might be struggling with and what help they need. In our experience this often throws up many surprises. This then enables companies to offer tailored, personalised support that’s actually going to make a difference. Without going through this process, companies need to accept that any support they offer may not be fit for purpose, and the mental wellbeing of their staff may well suffer.’

Sarah Dennis, Head of International at Towergate Health & Protection, says: ‘Employers with staff overseas have the added challenge that views and attitudes to mental health differ hugely around the world. It’s not taken seriously in every country, and this can hold employees back from utilising any support they’re offered.

‘Employees abroad face very specific challenges that can affect their mental wellbeing - being away from friends and family, coupled with high expectations to deliver for the business – the effect of these challenges can be exacerbated when working in a culture that doesn’t openly appreciate the toll it can take.

‘So not only do employers with staff overseas need to ensure the support they offer is right, they need to pay particular attention to communicating it effectively and give great emphasis on encouraging its usage. This can include making support available out of hours, letting staff know that support is confidential, ensuring support is offered by people who understand their specific needs, and using every opportunity – such as World Mental Health Day – to communicate the help on offer.

‘If employers underestimate the impact of different cultures on mental wellbeing, it will be to the detriment of the health of their staff.’