Sarah Mears, Chief Human Resources Officer
Like many people, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about the personal and professional lessons we learned during the pandemic and how we can apply that knowledge going forward. I believe the most important takeaway is to keep building momentum for strong mental health and wellness.
Professionally, we’ve all seen how the need for mental health assistance exploded during the pandemic, and how the programs we developed and rolled out helped our colleagues and friends through unprecedented challenges. Personally, I’ve had more discussions about mental health with my child, family and friends than I could have imagined just a few years ago.
In the post-pandemic world, its critically important that we continue to meet those wellness needs and new ones as we address hybrid work, work-life balance and other issues. World Mental Health Day 2023, with its theme “Mental health is a universal human right,” offers an opportune moment to consider how we’ll move forward.
The importance of mental health wellness programs in the workplace is growing across industries. In a health care strategy survey released in August, the Business Group on Health reported that 77% of 152 large employers are seeing increased mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety—a 33% increase from last year.
I’m very proud that MUFG Investor Services continues to focus on helping our colleagues and reinforce our longstanding commitment to promoting mental health and wellness.
Yesterday, we launched our fourth “The Mindful You” series for meditation and mindfulness techniques that spans October and November. Since 2019 mental health and wellness has been one of three pillars of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, along with Gender and LGBTQ+ awareness. During that time, we’ve created safe, interactive spaces for colleagues to hold frank discussions about a wide range of issues affecting mental health. We offer the Unmind app, which enables colleagues to proactively improve their mental wellness. And we continue to grow our global Mental Health First Aiders program to assist their co-workers and help them find ways to receive additional help.
None of this would be possible without the support or our senior leaders. They believe deeply in our programs and regularly discuss mental health issues and concerns with their teams to ensure that all our colleagues know they work in an environment where they can feel comfortable discussing their mental health.
Some people might think that it’s human nature to step back from self-care in the aftermath of a crisis. I’d argue that in a world where one in eight people live with mental health conditions, ensuring mental health and wellness has never been more important for organizations. The pandemic helped open the door to conversations about mental health; now we must keep having those discussions to take care of ourselves and our colleagues who take care of our businesses.