There is much to learn from cutting edge corporations who are leading the way in best practices for mental health support.
There are organisations which have developed a range of initiatives from the simple, like welcoming pets into the office, to the more formalised, such as peer to peer support and awareness training programs. Some organisations regularly survey their employees with specific regard to mental health and wellbeing, and in doing so, help destigmatise mental health discussions in the workplace and build understanding of where best to respond to need. In a recent example, Google found that many of their workers were at risk of burning out while working from home through COVID-19. In response, they implemented additional paid leave, and $1,000 for each team member to spend on equipment to improve work from home arrangements.
It is critical that organisations engage with a mix of reasonable adjustments and long term initiatives that can grow over time. Interestingly many corporations are recognising the business benefits of mental health programs through increased productivity and work quality, better work relationships, and lowered business costs through reduced absenteeism and healthcare claims.
In our final stages of the workshop, we examined how the business end of the performing arts needs to take steps to ensure their own practices are not contributing to mental health issues. There are also many ways the industry can appropriately support everyone to take responsibility for their own mental wellness, and create environments in which everyone can do their best work. The results of our workshop are providing focus for resources and programs now in development as the Arts Wellbeing Collective continues its work in the Performing Arts community.
None of us know how long our industry will take to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and the associated public health response, but recover it will, inspired by resilient, responsive and passionate people who have already spent their working lives adapting to constantly changing conditions.
Perhaps right now we are being offered an opportunity to reflect on the old paradigms that no longer support us. From this understanding we can begin building new foundations with stronger more open relationships and more holistic outcomes.