Mental health problems can be monstrous

Madrid / 7 April 2021

Our day to day at work is a very important part of our lives. On the World Health Day we want to show the importance of promoting mental health at work. This is one of the most important tasks for the HSE team and management at Siemens Gamesa. The psychological support service has seen how the pandemic has increased these pathologies. Creating a healthy working environment goes far beyond accident prevention: the well-being and mental health of employees are essential factors that we aim to promote through our culture.
Communication Department
Work is beneficial for our mental health: It gives us structure, stability, financial security, and promotes social interaction. Conversely, harassment, bullying, but also stress, too high work pace, or too high demands can also have a particularly negative impact on our health.

Psychological problems are widespread. According to a 2017 study published on Our World in Data, 10.7% of the worldwide population suffers from a mental health disorder, with depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse being the three most common ones.1 In a 2012 report, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated that the proportion of the working-age population in industrialized countries affected by clinical mental disorders is even higher: reaching a 20%, were around 5% suffer from severe mental disorders and a further 15% from moderate mental disorders. The number of unreported cases due to stigmatization is probably higher than the numbers shown in this data.

For these reasons, Siemens Gamesa is more committed than ever to raising awareness among its employees about the importance of mental health care.
SGRE wants to ensure being at the forefront of dealing with these health issues
On the World Health Day on April 7th the company has launched a campaign for its employees, “Mental health problems can be monstrous”, with information about the most common mental health disorders that the workforce may suffer, with tips and tricks to cope with them, podcasts and interviews with Health and Safety focal points.
Siemens Gamesa wants to ensure being at the forefront of dealing with these health issues through the creation of an Advisory Council on Mental Health that includes academic experts with recognized scientific prestige in Psychology and Clinical Psychiatry. This Council will allow the company to rely on scientific data and newest research to make decisions in this field.
How COVID-19 affects mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the burden not only on those already suffering from mental disorders but on everyone. The psychological support service has attended 250% more cases than last year in the same period between January and March. Mental health problems have risen over the past year both for colleagues working in factories or field operations and for the ones working from home, both groups are equally affected, although not for the same reasons.

While fear of contracting COVID-19 through face-to-face contact with colleagues predominates among colleagues working at factories and in field operations, employees working from home feel overwhelmed by the stress associated with remote work. Work-life boundaries blur, and especially in families, homeschooling and childcare place an additional time burden. Colleagues living alone, on the other hand, suffer from lack of social face to face contact and loneliness.

According to the American non-profit organization KFF Health Tracking Poll from July 2020 many adults reported specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.
Fight mental health problems together
Creating more awareness of mental health issues among all of us as well as supporting those affected is a key concern in the HSE team. At Siemens Gamesa, we take our duty of care very seriously by creating safe and healthy working environments and providing professional advice and services.
The company has reorganized its Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) department creating a Health and Wellbeing team, and Jesús Fagundez has been appointed the Mental Health coordinator at Siemens Gamesa.
Society must not stigmatise mental health problems
According to him, the main action lines that the company is working on are “minimizing psychosocial risks that employees may suffer in the organization, improving the work environment to help the mental well being of our employees and providing tools that allow to work on the different problems that may arise”.

For this reason, having psychological support services in place available to anyone in need has been one of the main focus of the team.

Jesús Fagundez also highlights the main challenges faced when it comes to mental health: “The first one is the pandemic situation that we are living, as it has made many of the risk situations for mental health disorders worse (social isolation, fear of getting infected, infecting our loved ones, etc.). There is a second challenge about the stigma that comes along with mental health disorders. The acceptance of having a mental health problem and assuming that help is needed to solve it is one of the biggest barriers in some cultures. And the third one is the huge diversity across Siemens Gamesa”.

Society must not stigmatise mental health problems, it must learn to accept and normalise these problems because they affect an increasing number of people in the world. Companies have to be committed to the health of their employees and SGRE is working on this.

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