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Experts indicate that stress and anxiety are normal in moments of crisis. But the challenges posed by the pandemic have been enduring, and the path to normality is likely to be long. And so, the stress many of us have felt over the last year has the potential to become problematic and even damaging.

Anxiety doesn’t discriminate by wealth or status. Recent data from premium health insurer Bupa Global in its Executive Wellbeing Index showed that 96 per cent* of high-net-worth individuals in the UAE have experienced at least one symptom of mental ill-health since the start of the pandemic. Business leaders face a double challenge; not only must they manage their own mental health but they also have a duty to look after their employees.

Addressing stigmas

Despite the wealth of information, resources and even legislation available to support people with mental health issues, talking about these topics could still be considered difficult by some.

Compared to the other regions covered by the Index, business leaders from the UAE took a more traditional view of corporate leadership. Only 10 per cent** thought CEOs are now expected to show greater empathy, compared to 27 per cent globally.

Stigma and discrimination can worsen someone's mental health problems and delay or impede their getting help and treatment – so it’s vital to tackle them.

“The first step is being open and honest, accepting our challenges, rather than brushing them under the carpet,” says Dr Luke James, Medical Director at Bupa Global. “Just because you’re successful doesn’t mean that everything is OK, and because there’s no-one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with mental ill-health, expert support is essential.”

Indeed, business leaders have a responsibility to break down the stigma associated with mental health issues like stress and anxiety to ensure everyone can thrive at work.

Leading by example

Being an effective manager is about much more than simply delegating workloads and tracking performance against KPIs and targets. It’s clear that a happy workforce is a more motivated and productive one – so the first step is talking about mental health openly and honestly.

For Dr James, the key is viewing mental health for what it is – a problem with someone’s health. “We find it normal, or at least easier, to talk about our physical illnesses than we do about how life, stress and mental ill-health affect our brain. But the truth is that speaking up about mental health in the workplace is the only way to break down this stigma.”

Some organisations are already putting this into practice. Indeed, as part of an initiative from the World Health Organisation, a number of organisations including Clifford Chance, Deloitte and HSBC have teamed up to encourage other firms to advance “the desperately needed conversation around creating an open, welcoming and supportive workplace environment for all when it comes to mental health” – signing a pledge committing their organisation to promoting and developing a more positive culture around mental health.

Oman Insurance’s approach to mental health support

As an Oman Insurance customer, you can benefit from the combined experience of Oman Insurance Company, the insurer and local administrator of the plans, and Bupa Global, the international administrator of the plans, a partnership that is designed to help fill you with confidence.

The companies recognise that mental health is just as important as physical health and believe in helping people to feel their best and stay that way too. To support this, they have removed both annual and monetary limits across plans for in-patient and day-patient mental health treatment (up to the annual maximum limit of your chosen plan).

For more information about their premium health plans, visit oicglobal.ae or talk to their Private Client team today on 04 210 8088.

*Bupa Global Executive Wellbeing Index (September 2021) Page 25

**Bupa Global Executive Wellbeing Index (September 2021) Page 25

Click here to download the Index