COVID-19 pandemic brings fresh focus on mental health
Aug 04, 2020
In May 2014, we signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge to break the mental health stigma and change the way we think and act about mental health in the workplace. Novartis continues to commit to addressing this issue, one that has become even more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic, by stepping up our efforts to ensure our associates feel supported at this challenging time.
The necessary, but strict measures imposed to control the COVID-19 outbreak have required social contact restrictions and isolation, and studies have identified an association with the COVID-19 pandemic and an increased risk of worsening mental health suggesting that research is needed to fully assess the impact on society now and in the longterm1-3.
Mental health issues affect everyone, both adults and children, and even though we are getting better at recognising them and providing support, they can still carry stigma. Recently, we partnered with Peppy, a health and well-being app, to provide our associates with programmes that offer guidance and support for overall mental health. In addition, Novartis is also able to offer resources through the Peppy app for other key milestones in people’s lives where their well-being could be negatively impacted such as menopause and parenthood.
Mridula Pore, co-founder of Peppy, said, “The pandemic and lockdown restrictions have exacerbated everyday stress as we are cut-off from our usual support systems with added pressures placed on people and their families. Peppy provides confidential support for people going through fertility treatment, pregnancy, becoming a new parent or menopause, as well as mental health support. We are delighted to partner with Novartis UK as the first pharmaceutical company to offer this level of targeted support for its employees, particularly valuable during the current COVID-19 crisis.”
Menopause is one subject we feel that needs more focus as a major gap in support for women and their families. At Novartis UK, we are pleased to be the first pharmaceutical company to offer support for menopause as part of the range of well-being efforts. Throughout our culture journey, we aim to reimagine the way we work so that we can foster an environment where people can bring their best self to work every day.
Julie Campbell, Head of People and Organisation for Oncology, Novartis UK and Ireland, and mental health champion, said, “The topics of mental health, menopause, and some aspects of parenthood are often seen as taboo, and can be difficult for many people to talk about. Showing vulnerability can be hard for any associate and there is even more of a need now for remote confidential support. We want to empower our associates to feel confident to take control of their own well-being journey without fear of judgement.”
According to the anonymous data we have so far seen good uptake amongst associates for the Peppy app, especially with praise for the menopause advisors, and we hope that this will help us reach our goal to break the mental health stigma in the workplace.
1 Torales J, et al., The outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on global mental health. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2020 Jun;66(4):317-320. doi: 10.1177/0020764020915212. Epub 2020 Mar 31.