The CIPD is one of 33 leading organisations that have today committed to prioritising the mental health of their employees as they return to work. Joining organisations including Unilever, Barclays and Santander, the CIPD has signed an open letter to The Times newspaper which details this commitment.

The letter comes as fears grow around the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. The open letter cites research by the charity Mind, which found that 35% of employees describe their mental health as either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, and that the prospect of returning to work was causing them to feel anxious.

This is reinforced by CIPD research, which found that 43% of employees said their general mental health has worsened since the coronavirus outbreak, rising to 52% for those with an existing mental health issue.

From an employer perspective, we found that 88% of employers are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on employee mental health. And when asked for more detail about mental health issues, ‘fear and anxiety about themselves or a loved one becoming ill’ was by far the most common concern reported by employees within the surveyed organisations.

The open-letter emphasises that ‘there has never been a more important time to build back better when it comes to supporting employee mental health and wellbeing. As a group of leading employers and industry bodies in Britain, we are committed to doing this’.

As we continue to re-adjust from the impacts of COVID-19, employee mental health needs to be prioritised as a factor at the heart of any business recovery discussions. The people profession has a crucial role to play in ensuring this happens.

The CIPD has produced a range of guidance and resources for employers and people professionals to support the health and wellbeing of employees.

Our guide Coronavirus (COVID-19): Mental health and returning to the workplace details how practitioners can support the mental health of employees as lockdown ends and there is a phased return to the workplace.

You can also see the full range of our health and wellbeing resources on the pandemic, such as resources to support the wellbeing of remote workers, visit our COVID-19 hub.

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At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.