Mental health awareness grows but company commitment stagnates

CCLA benchmark shows 95% of companies acknowledge mental health as important to business

Mental health awareness within a professional environment continues to grow globally, with 95% of companies acknowledging the topic as important to business, CCLA Investment Management’s report found.

Its second annual report, released on World Mental Health Day, details that while almost all companies show a value for mental health, only 17% of CEOs have displayed public leadership commitment to the cause, a number that has been stagnant for the past year. CCLA claims this could have a significant impact on company culture, as those companies with CEOs displaying leadership scored 75% higher than those without.

See also: Green Dream with CCLA’s Amy Browne

Will Pomroy, head of impact engagement at Federated Hermes Limited, said: “Given many of us spend more time at work with our colleagues than we do at home with our friends and families, the responsibility on employers to safeguard and promote their employees’ mental wellbeing, as well as their physical and financial wellbeing is self-evident.

“Beyond being the right thing to do in and of itself, there is also a clear self-interest. Those companies that invest in their employees and provide decent work, benefit financially from higher productivity, lower turnover and higher levels of customer satisfaction. This research is helpful in shining a spotlight on the topic and encouraging better practice.”

CCLA uses a benchmark system to produce the results, which tracks 110 of the world’s largest listed companies. It scores companies through a weighted average including management commitment and policy, governance and management, leadership and innovation, and performance reporting and impact.

Amy Browne (pictured), stewardship lead at CCLA, said the data clearly backs up why mental health is a strong investment for companies, citing that for every $1 (£0.82) invested in treating depression and anxiety in the workplace, there is a $4 (£3.28) return in health and productivity.

“The way in which businesses respond should be a serious commercial consideration for companies and investors alike,” Brown said.

“The results suggest that most companies now dedicate resources aimed at dealing with the symptoms of ill-health. Few, however, are taking preventative action by ensuring managers are trained in the provision of healthy work environments. In a similar vein, only 25% of companies make the link between good mental health and the good work principle of fair pay and financial wellbeing.”

According to a Lancet Journal study published in 2020, there are 12 billion working days lost globally to depression and anxiety, amounting to $1trn (£818.9bn) in lost productivity.

However, the CCLA report does show some progress in this arena, with one in five of the monitored companies improving to a higher tier for mental health support within their benchmark. Roche Holding, Toronto-Dominion Bank, and TotalEnergies all improved their scores enough to move two brackets in a year.

The report also identified areas of growth for companies, specifically in providing mental health training to line managers, which only 22% of respondents reported on this year, despite 78% of companies providing mental health services.

Peter Hugh Smith, chief executive of CCLA, said: “Company leaders have a responsibility to develop a culture in which all workers can thrive. It is no surprise that in organisations where chief executives have publicly acknowledged the importance of good mental health, there has, for the most part, been greater progress.

“As investors, we call upon companies to not just recognise their moral responsibilities as an employer but to accelerate their efforts to turn their policies into action and to take the necessary steps to unlock economic value by creating conditions under which their employees can thrive.”