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Integration of mental health, key to corporate sustainability strategy
Mental health gains prominence in the sustainability agenda
  • In its fourth edition, the Health and Sustainability Action Group led by Forética and made up of 23 large companies - headed by Chiesi, ASISA Group and Quirónsalud - will focus on deepening the responsibility of companies to act on mental health issues, with the aim of maximizing their positive contribution to the health and well-being of people.
  • According to the third edition of the 'IBEX 35 Observatory. Health, Wellbeing and Sustainability in IBEX 35 companies' by Forética -recently published within the framework of the Action Group- in 2021, 70% of the companies analyzed had a specific program on mental health for their employees, compared to 36% in 2020.

The Health and Sustainability Action Groupled by Forética and made up of 23 large companies - headed by Chiesi, ASISA Group and Quirónsalud - will focus its fourth edition on addressing the integration of mental health into business strategy and the responsibility of companies to act, with the aim of being able to prevent, protect, measure and maximize their positive contribution to the health and well-being of people.

According to the Confederation Mental Health Spain, 1 in 4 people have or will have some mental health problem during their lifetime. Specifically in Spain, it is considered that between 11% and 27% of mental health problems can be attributed to working conditions, according to the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH).

The World Health Organization highlights the major impact this challenge has on the activity of all economic sectors. The world economy loses around one trillion dollars a year in productivity due to cases of anxiety and depression alone. In fact, the total cost of mental health problems in Spain is 4.2% of GDP (approximately 45,000 million euros). According to McKinsey estimates, investing in employee mental health has an economic return for organizations of $4.25 for every dollar invested.

Ricardo Trujillo, Director of Social Impact and Human Capital at Forética, says: "Beyond physical health, companies are placing increasing importance on caring for the mental health of their workers, a highly topical issue given the impacts of COVID-19 and the current economic and social context caused by the geopolitical crisis. Companies are strengthening their approach to aspects linked to health and well-being as highlighted in the 'Vision 2050' roadmap, integrating them as the core of their sustainability strategies'.

In fact, according to the third edition of the IBEX 35 Observatory. Health, Well-being and Sustainability in IBEX 35 companies' third edition of Forética's 'IBEX 35 Observatory. by Forética -recently published within the framework of the Action Group- in 2021, 70% of the companies analyzed had some specific program on mental health for their employees, compared to 36% in 2020. The fact that this figure has doubled in just one year shows the growing importance that Spanish companies are attaching to caring for the mental health of their employees.

María Ordovás, Manager of the Health and Sustainability Action Group, points out: "The promotion of mental health by companies has numerous benefits for them. These include increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, minimized labor turnover and lower healthcare costs. Companies are increasingly giving employees a more active role in health and wellness, giving them a voice and encouraging their participation through different tools".

According to the aforementioned Observatory published by Forética, in 2021, 88% of IBEX 35 companies had some mechanism of this type. This is due to the fact that active listening is configured as a fundamental element in the process of integrating the culture of well-being in the company. This is a process that consists of 4 fundamental elements: commitment, identification (where the importance of giving workers a voice is framed), implementation and, finally, monitoring and evaluation.

The 'Health and Sustainability Action Group', led by Chiesi, ASISA Group and Quirónsalud, also has a group of participating companies: Accenture, Alsea, Grupo Antolín, CAPSA Food, Cellnex, ENAIRE, GSK, Ibercaja, ILUNION, Johnson & Johnson, LafargeHolcim, Lilly, Mahou San Miguel, Microsoft, Redeia, Sanitas, SENASA, Vithas, Santander and Tüv Rheinland.

The first annual meeting of the Action Group organized by Forética was attended by the Director of the Office of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Spain, Félix Peinado, who addressed the importance of the link between work and mental health and the need for action by companies and public administrations to face this challenge, in line with the document recently published by the International Labor Organization and the World Health Organization under the title 'Mental health at work: Policy brief'.

About the Health and Sustainability Action Group

The Action Group constitutes a business meeting point for leadership, knowledge and dialogue to value health and wellness as a fundamental axis of corporate sustainability.

The Group has focused its third edition in 2022 mainly on deepening the 'health footprint' of companies from two angles: the impact on the health of their employees, with a focus on mental health; and the business contribution to the health of its customers and consumers through an offer of healthy products and services. Within the framework of the III Business Forum: Health and Sustainable Development (SDG 3), the report 'Health and Wellness 2030: Exploring the scope of companies' health footprint' was presented at the 3rd Business Forum: Health and Sustainable Development (SDG 3)..

The Group worked in its second edition on the link between climate change and human health, identifying four levers to guide companies towards a more integrated action of these two aspects as part of their sustainability strategy, as highlighted in the report 'Health and Wellness 2030: Integration in the business strategy. Climate Change and Health. The new frontier of sustainability'.

During the first year of work, the Group focused on analyzing the business case for health and sustainability in order to identify a roadmap for the integration of SDG 3 into the organizations' strategy.

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