Today (6th May) marks World Maternal Mental Health Day. Here in the UK, it is also Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week (4th – 10th May), organised by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership.
Perinatal mental health (a mother’s emotional and psychological wellbeing throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond) is often misunderstood, despite approximately 1 in 10 women being affected. Postnatal depression is thankfully discussed more openly nowadays, but women can also suffer from anxiety, psychosis, PTSD, adjustment disorders, OCD, and other chronic mental illnesses, after carrying, bearing or losing a baby. And sadly not everyone will receive the correct support.
At Vodafone, we recognise the importance of helping our colleagues through any wellbeing challenges they may face at any time. We are also passionate about guiding parents on the tricky balance of work and caring responsibilities. Our support is especially critical when those two components combine, which is why we are actively raising awareness of these maternal mental health campaigns amongst our people this week.
However, we’re not just talking about it for one week! We already have an excellent range of family-friendly policies and some amazingly supportive employee networks. Of course, the current climate will have exacerbated the struggle for working parents, so, now more than ever, we must take extra care of our colleagues’ emotional wellbeing – by updating policies, sharing the burden and getting it done together.
Here’s a snapshot of how we’re helping our parents to weather the storm:
· Our existing Employee Assistance Programme offers confidential 24/7 support for personal or work-related problems, free of charge for all employees and immediate family members.
· Our new Remote GP Benefit ensures employees can continue to receive medical treatment. The service is available to all employees and their dependents, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
· We have evolved our Compassionate & Unexpected Care Leave Policy so that employees can take leave flexibly.
· We’ve updated our Parental Leave policy, so that time can be taken in days, not just full weeks.
· Our Ready Parents and Carers Network provides colleagues with practical and emotional peer-to-peer support, including tips on working from home and keeping the kids entertained.
· Our Wellbeing network is an inclusive internal group that connects colleagues, share advice and signpost to support.
· We’re supporting the work of the UK charity Best Beginnings to increase awareness of its NHS-endorsed app, which provides advice, resources and even appointment reminders for new and expectant parents.
All of these services remain available for any colleagues on maternity (or shared parental) leave, so our brand new mums and dads can stay in touch and seek help if they’re struggling.
Right now, the most powerful thing we can do is to #stayconnected with each other and really listen to our people’s needs. Vodafone is working hard each day to create this inclusive and flexible culture for all.