United Arab Emirates, 17, May 2020  – The Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) announced the launch of a Workplace Wellness Programme today in response to the results from its recent survey, which revealed more than a third of industry professionals feel they are not well supported by companies with regards to their health and wellbeing. The survey, which polled 108 communication professionals, also revealed that 45% of respondents’ mental health had “often” interfered with their ability to complete work-related tasks. MEPRA held the survey to better understand how COVID-19 had impacted the mental wellbeing of Middle East PR professionals and to tailor a workplace wellness programme in response.   

The MEPRA Workplace Wellness Programme will include a toolkit for managers to help identify and support employees with mental health issues, a free webinar series including support for managers and employees on mental wellbeing and a free support service for anyone suffering from mental health issues. The programme is being developed in partnership with various mental health experts in the region and will be available from June 2020 to all MEPRA members. 

The COVID-19 Mental health Impact Survey revealed the three most common challenges faced by respondents were feelings of anxiety and panic (51%), financial stress (42%), and depression (28%).  More than a third of the respondents also stated they would like to see training for management and leadership on mental health to be better equip them to handle employee issues.

The survey, which was open to professionals working in PR and communications at all levels also revealed:

  • The number of respondents who felt ‘very stressed’ tripled from before the lockdown to now – 10% to 30% 
  • 41% of respondents said their organisations never check in their mental wellbeing 
  • 38% of respondents don’t feel well supported with their health and wellbeing at work
  • 48% of organisations have a wellness programmes 
  • Top three mental wellness programmes respondents would like to see in their organization:. training for management and leadership on mental health (36%), stress management programmes (30%), and meditation programmes (10% )
  • Top three reasons why respondents currently feel stressed or anxious: uncertainty as to when living restrictions as a result of COVID-19 will end (61%), job insecurity (38%), and financial issues 35%
  • 28% of respondents were diagnosed with a mental health condition or suffered from mental health issues before COVID 19.

MEPRA Executive Director, Sabrina De Palma said: “The survey results clearly show COVID-19 has impacted not only the physical health of individuals but their mental health as well, with employees currently experiencing more fear and anxiety than usual. The uncertainty about when pandemic will end, financial issues and jobs insecurity are causing employees to feel heightened levels of stress.

“MEPRA is committed to supporting members’ mental health and overall well-being by ensuring everyone has access to support when they need it most. We know from speaking to our members that some organisations have already successfully implemented a workplace wellness programme and as the region’s industry’s body we want to make sure mental health management tools are easily accessible so even more organisations can be better equipped to support their team’s mental wellbeing.”

MEPRA’s second webinar in its mental wellbeing webinar series will be hosted on 18th May 2020 by RE:SET, a locally based online resource centre for mental health support, and Atteline. It will uncover how organisations can create and develop wellness and mental health support practices for employees. 

To view the findings from the MEPRA COVID-19 Mental Wellness Impact Survey and to find out more about MEPRA’s free webinars, training and support, visit www.mepra.org/covid-19