Now We’re Talking: Clifford Chance collaborates to launch The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health

February 25, 2021

2 min read

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What's going on here?

On 25 January 2021 Clifford Chance, along with a cohort of business leaders, launched The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health (GBC), making mental health a priority within the workplace.

What does this mean?

With its firm focus on mental health, this initiative is groundbreaking. It aims to permanently change how our working environment can influence our mental health, using evidence based practice. Its founding partners include Clifford Chance, BHP, Deloitte, HSBC, Salesforce and Unilever, as well as input from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Economic Forum and United for Global Mental Health. They announced “as we look to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, the business community must prioritise and invest in the mental health of all employees [in] a social imperative that will drive positive and long-lasting effects for society. We invite other leaders of businesses … to advance the desperately needed conversation around creating an open, welcoming, and supportive workplace environment for all”. To be a part of GBC, leaders must commit to an action plan of fostering good mental health within the workplace.  

What's the big picture effect?

Clifford Chance’s Global Managing Partner Matthew Layton states that “It has never been more important to provide investment and support” with 48% of Gen Z and 44% of Millennials report feeling stressed most of the time. The mental health crisis has accelerated following the pandemic, with the NHS receiving 357,042 new referrals to mental health services during October 2020. Dévora Kestel, Director of Mental Health and Substance Use for the WHO explains that “working conditions, is one of the key social determinants of mental health”. The WHO estimates the global costs of common mental ill health to be a staggering $1 trillion per annum. Unfortunately, the efforts that are currently being made are falling short, with just 2% of global healthcare expenditures going to mental health. 

The pandemic has brought a rise in stress, fear and anxiety, sparking many to suggest a simultaneous mental health pandemic. Arnaud Bernaert, head of Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare initiative commented “With more than half of working adults reporting increases in anxiety and decreases in productivity at work in response to COVID-19, coordinated action and public-private partnerships are key to galvanizing action among employers globally”. There is evidence of a strong link between our mental and physical health. Recent statistics show one in five COVID-19 patients were diagnosed with a mental illness within three months of testing positive, and those with pre-existing psychiatric illnesses were 65% more likely to contract the virus. If, as the evidence shows, our mental health affects our physical health in such a way businesses will suffer financially.

Considering negative employee engagement impacts both business productivity and customer satisfaction, it isn’t hard to see why industry leaders have decided to make a radical change.

Report written by Lauren Kent

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