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October 20, 2021 | INSIDE THOMSON REUTERS

Expanding our support for mental health and wellbeing 

By Mary Alice Vuicic, Chief People Officer

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted all aspects of our lives and balancing the demands of home life and work has not been easy.  This situation has created growing mental health challenges.  In one recent study, 76% of respondents reported at least one symptom of mental health in 2021 compared to 59% in 2019.  At Thomson Reuters, the impact the pandemic has motivated us to expand our efforts in employee wellbeing. As a company in the knowledge economy where value is created with the minds of our people, we’re making a conscious effort to embed wellbeing into the fabric of our business.

This year, we’re rolling out new initiatives and commitments. On October 25, we’re encouraging all our employees to take a break, unplug and reconnect with nature or family or however they choose to recharge.  In our busy lives with always on technology, it’s important that we make time to disconnect. I’m looking forward to spending time outdoors with my family.  Introduced for the first-time last year, this month’s mental day off - along with a second day in May - are now a permanent feature of our commitment to supporting employee wellbeing.

Technology is helping us deliver mental health supports in new ways and we’re investing in the tools our people need to assess their mental health and to support their team members, and families.  This month, we launched a new psychological and resilience self-assessment tools to help employees identify their strengths and risks and develop individualized strategies.  Using the Headspace app, we introduced a 14-day mindfulness challenge which can include activities ranging from mini meditation in the morning to breathing exercises before bed.

When dealing with mental health and wellbeing at work, it’s critical to create safe spaces for important conversations, learning and sharing without judgement. In a recent survey in Canada, 62% of workers said that emotional, mental, and physical fatigue is the top issue affecting them negatively. However, 37% feel unsafe talking about mental health at work, according to report from Sun Life.  

To support our people leaders in creating safe spaces to talk about mental health, we’re launching a mental health playbook – a resource guide for addressing mental health concerns with their colleagues. Other tools we’ve introduced include an extensive series of live and on-demand webinars for people managers and employees on topics such as on meditation, suicide prevention, change and anxiety and resilience.

While a company can create programs and provide tools for their employees, modeling behavior is essential. We encourage all our executives and people leaders to speak out on issues of mental health and wellbeing to help break the stigma.   It’s important as leaders that we let our people know that it’s okay to say you’re not okay.

We’re on a journey to being a global leader in wellbeing, and our work has only just begun.

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