The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has highlighted mental wellbeing as one of the key factors that will ensure that, as the tourism sector rebuilds, it comes “back stronger and better than before”.
To that end, the council has launched its new mental health guidelines which have been compiled to support businesses of all sizes to support the mental health of their employees.
The Mental Health Guidelines build on the Diversity & Inclusion Guidelines released by WTTC in 2020, going one step deeper to focus on mental wellbeing to help businesses better prepare for the recovery period following the COVID-19 crisis.
“The guidelines come at a time when mental health could not be more important. With lockdowns, quarantines, job losses and uncertainty looming larger than ever, all against the backdrop of winter, it is crucial that mental health support is given space in the conversations around recovery,” said Gloria Guevara, President and CEO of the WTTC.
She said the travel and tourism sector employed people from all socio-economic backgrounds regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, almost 50% of whom are women and up to 30% youths.
“After nearly a full year of insecurity and hardship that has come from the COVID-19 pandemic, the time could not be more appropriate to invest in the mental well-being of this sector.”
Research highlights need
Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) showed that more than nine in 10 people (95%) felt that poor mental health affected their performance at work, while 85% said it was difficult to concentrate when struggling with poor mental health, and 64% felt that it took them longer to complete tasks.
Furthermore, research conducted by the World Health Organisation revealed a US$4 return in improved health and productivity, for every US$1 investment in improved treatment for common mental disorders.
The Mental Health Guidelines are divided into four pillars:
- Developing a Supportive System
- Creating Safe Spaces
- Supporting an Agile System
- Exemplifying Support for Good Mental Health
Examples of the guidelines:
- Provide appropriate mental health support within the organisational structure to the extent possible. This could include access to professional and specialised support through the local health authority and/or the business itself.
- Develop leave policies that offer equivalent time off and/or concessions for mental health and physical health, without prejudice.
- Develop feedback systems that allow employees to share if and how the current systems are working well and not working well to meet staff needs.
- Foster an environment that respects the value of wellbeing, at all levels of the organisation, and does not ostracise those with mental health conditions, whether common or less common.
- Consider incorporating intentional wellness elements in the design of new buildings, offices, locations, and/or spaces, where possible.
- Engage with like-minded businesses and associations to share best practice and improve support for and awareness of mental health.