LONDON—The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched its new mental health guidelines for the travel and tourism sector, 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 well-being. It will help businesses better prepare for the recovery period following the COVID-19 crisis, and will ensure that as the sector rebuilds, it comes back stronger and better than before.
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.
Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) showed that 95% of people feel that poor mental health affects their performance at work, while 85% say it is difficult to concentrate when struggling with poor mental health, and 64% feel that it takes them longer to complete tasks.
Furthermore, research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed a $4 return in improved health and productivity for every $1 investment in improved treatment for common mental disorders.
WTTC compiled these guidelines, with the advice of leading health authorities and private sector leaders, to aid the travel & tourism sector. Maintenance of and support for good mental health should be part of an organization’s culture and strategy.
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 include:
- Provide appropriate mental health support within the organizational structure to the extent possible. This could include access to professional and specialized 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 well-being, at all levels of the organization, and does not ostracize 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.
“WTTC is proud to release these important high-level guidelines focusing on mental wellbeing, which will help travel & tourism businesses of all kinds and their employees,” said Gloria Guevara, president/CEO, WTTC. “The sector employs people from all socio-economic backgrounds regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, with 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.”
She added, “Furthermore, throughout its very nature, the travel & tourism sector is one that brings joy to people of all walks of life, therefore it makes perfect sense for the sector to reflect these values within the workplace as well. We look forward to seeing these guidelines make real change within the workforce.”