People in Asia Pacific are more vocal about the importance of personal health amid Covid-19. The Drum looks at how businesses are tackling this subject with their employees and consumers.
As people continue to work from home (WFH) because of Covid-19, companies are helping their employees and consumers cope with their mental health by investing in branded services, mental health services, and communication channels.
A new report from Digimind which analysed key trends in over 900,000 mentions around health concerns in relation to Covid-19, found while physical wellness still tops health-related discussions, mental health talk is gaining momentum on social media.
This meant that people are taking a more holistic approach to health on social media, with brands endemic and non-endemic to the health and wellness industry following suit.
Olivier Girard, the head of Asia Pacific, Digimind, says employers are making concerted efforts to extend employee benefits to include mental well-being programs, consultations, and treatments. Virtual lunchrooms and channels have become commonplace for employees to seek human interaction outside work-related conversations.
“It goes without saying that companies are also digitising to continue offering these services. At the height of the pandemic in March 2020, use of Instagram’s Live feature surged by 70%. And in the next month, Zoom grew to 300 million participants daily,” he adds.
As a company, Michael Patent, the founder and president at Culture Group, says he is raising his employees’ awareness of mental well-being and mental health conditions by demonstrating that mental health and vulnerability should not have a stigma, is a journey that starts with its leadership team.
“I personally have shared with the team my own experiences where I have been overwhelmed, under-rested, or ridden with anxiety over a key project,” he explains.
“Showing our team that it is okay to have these feelings goes a long way in creating a safe and inclusive environment.”
For Talent Trust, a company that brings businesses, professionals, and charities together to create sustainable change through skills-based volunteering, its chief executive officer Tess Mackean says that as an employer, she helps foster trust and security for her employees through open and honest communication.
She explains that she shares the company’s financial forecasts so that nobody has to worry about losing their jobs. In addition, she also allows flexible work hours and does not expect her employees to be available round the clock.
“Respect their boundaries. WFH means that many care-givers are home-schooling their dependents. We cannot expect ‘normal’ levels of output. Tell them this,” she explains.
“Show them that you understand the pressures that they’re under and, where possible, make proactive arrangements to accommodate their specific circumstances. Happy and resilient employees are going to help you and your business weather this awful storm while making your work, work for everyone.”
At the same time, brands are using campaigns, collaborations, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities centered around wellness to engage consumers who are seeking mental health outlets in light of the pandemic.
This includes branded events with meditation and yoga in the program, as well as livestreams and interviews discussing mental health topics.
For example, skateboarding company Vans, chose to focus its annual Checkerboard Day campaign on “Creativity for Mental Wellness” as the theme for 2020. Through this campaign, the brand donated US $1 million to organisations that support mental wellness, and earned upwards of 3,800 interactions on Facebook alone
“Brands have picked up on consumers’ inclination towards healthy and holistic living even before the pandemic,” explains Girard.
“Effectively, Covid-19 accelerated interest in mental wellness on both ends, as social distancing and lockdown measures led people to feel isolated, depressed, and anxious, casting a spotlight on mental wellbeing. Between March and April 2020 alone, there was a two-time spike in online posts that mentioned mental health in relation to Covid-19 in Asia Pacific.”
He adds: “In the empathy economy, consumers seek companies that connect with them emotionally. Brands are thus channeling their efforts into building solidarity with their target audience, and showing their commitment to improving their online community’s well-being, whether through virtual events or content.”
The Drum previously looked at how the advertising industry in APAC dealt with their employees' mental health in 2020.