05 October 2022
The 10th October is World Mental Health Day. With this year’s theme Making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority, we’re exploring how inclusion and diversity are intrinsically linked to positive mental health.
Latest UN data shows that nearly one billion people worldwide live with some form of psychological disorder. And in the first year of the pandemic, rates of common conditions such as depression and anxiety, increased by more than 25 per cent. And while the pandemic shone a spotlight on the importance of psychological health, it also highlighted that mental health issues have had a disproportionate effect on some groups and communities. The risk of poor mental health, nature of illness, coping strategies and willingness to seek support are influenced by multiple factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and culture.
Underrepresented groups in society can also face additional barriers—such as harassment, discrimination, unconscious bias and other stressors—that can take a toll on their mental health and psychological safety at work.
Vandita Pant, Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Sponsor for Racial Diversity, says racism and racial discrimination can take many forms.
“It is not only about deliberate actions motivated by hate – racism can also occur without awareness or intent. It is the long-lasting impact that matters. We know that racism can result in lifelong mental and physical trauma for those who are impacted,” she said.
“Therefore, in order to foster mental health and wellbeing for all, it is imperative that we work collectively to eliminate racism, bullying and harassment from our workplace and enable everyone to thrive and have a sense of belonging.”
“We also need to ensure our mental health interventions meet the needs of all employees, including those from underrepresented groups,” she said.
A recent study has shown that inclusion - whether in teams, leaders, or the organisational culture – is linked to better mental health at work. The research found that workers in inclusive teams are 7 times more likely than those in non-inclusive teams to report their workplace has positively impacted their mental health.
Fiona Vines, Head of Inclusion and Diversity and Workforce Transition says it is clear that initiatives which support diversity, inclusion, and belonging can also support mental health – and vice versa.
“By fostering a culture of inclusion at BHP, we can enable each and every person to be open about their mental health needs and confident they will receive tailored and appropriate support,” she said.
A truly inclusive workplace relies on more than organisational initiatives and processes – it starts with the attitudes, words and actions lived out by individuals every day. So each of us have an important role to play in creating an environment where everybody has a voice and is heard and our mental health is fostered every day in every interaction in our workplaces and communities across the globe.