Mental Health and the Economy
Covid-19 isn’t just a deadly threat to human life; it’s also a mental health crisis with economic consequences. Fear of illness, strict lockdowns, isolation from friends and family, rising unemployment and collapsing businesses weigh on the hearts and minds of people all across the globe.
Poor mental health also has a societal and economic impact. At Bloomberg’s Mental Health and the Economy virtual briefing, we bring together corporate leaders and a leading clinical psychologist to identity what the public and private sector can do to safeguard employees’ mental health as the world continues to grapple with Covid-19.
- Jason Sadler, President, Cigna International Markets, Cigna Corporation
- Jimmy Etheredge, CEO of North America, Accenture
- Leena Nair, Chief Human Resources Officer, Unilever
- Dr. Ashwini Zenooz, Chief Medical Officer, Salesforce
- Richard Bentall, Professor of Clinical Psychology, The University of Sheffield
- Carol Massar, Co-Anchor Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg Television and Radio
- Emma Court, Health Care Reporter, Bloomberg
- Yazhou Sun, Senior Programming Director, Bloomberg Live
Below are some highlights from the event.
Click here to view the event on demand.
Jason Sadler, President, Cigna International Markets, Cigna Corporation opened the event. He stressed the importance of equipping employees with the skills to deal with change and uncertainty. Sadler said corporations need to create “an open culture that enables people to talk honestly about how they are feeling and providing them with tools and resources.”
On how to stop fixing and start listening: Jimmy Etheredge, Accenture’s North America CEO said the pandemic has taught him to stop fixing and start listening. “It has helped me see that I don’t need to jump into problem-solving mode. It’s really about validating what employees are going through without judgement,” Etheredge said. Etheredge has put his leadership team through a mental health ally training to encourage more conversations during the pandemic.
On leading with empathy and inclusion: Leena Nair, Unilever’s Chief Human Resources Officer said there’s no one-size-fits-all leadership strategy. “It’s not OK to assume it’s the same for everyone. It’s important our leaders are trained in a bit of empathy and inclusion to walk in other people’s shoes and make flexibility work for everyone.” Nair said employees who are homeschooling children or caring for elderly parents face different challenges, and corporate leaders must make flexibility work for everyone.
On embracing vulnerability at work: Dr. Ashwini Zenooz, Chief Medical Officer, Salesforce said she’s encouraging her team to embrace vulnerability amid the uncertainties. “I’m telling my own team it’s OK to feel not completely normal about all this. Because it’s not normal times. And to take time to have wellbeing days to just shut down,” Zenooz said. A working mom herself, Zenooz said coping with the pandemic has been a challenge and a steep learning curve, and employees should know that it’s ok to not be ok.
On overcoming the stigma of mental illness: Richard Bentall, Professor of Clinical Psychology, The University of Sheffield said what destigmatizes mental health is putting it in context. “We know that drivers of mental illness are poverty, inequality, personal trauma, problems with the ways kids are brought up, bully in the workplace and so on,” Bentall said. Bentall emphasized most factors that determine mental health are not in genes or brain biochemistry, but in circumstances in which we live.
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