Positive thinking: The ‘how’ and ‘why’ of measuring mental wellbeing in the UK drinks industry
Wine Intelligence has been commissioned by The Benevolent to conduct a survey looking into the mental wellbeing of employees in the UK drinks industry. Here we look into the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of such a survey.
This year, Wine Intelligence started off with something different – a social project in partnership with the charity for the UK drinks business, The Benevolent. As part of the charity’s mental health campaign, #NotAlone, The Benevolent tasked Wine Intelligence with creating and analysing a mental wellbeing survey in order to help understand the status of mental health in the UK drinks industry. Part of the project goal is also to establish what HR policies or practices currently exist to support employees with mental health difficulties. Overall, the charity hopes to raise awareness of mental health in the UK drinks industry and urge those involved to establish a set of policies for those in need, thereby creating a stigma-free workplace for its employees.
Why do a survey now? Building on the broader awareness within UK society about mental wellbeing, The Benevolent has concluded that one of its core roles as the main charity for the UK drinks industry should be to provide support for individuals experiencing mental health issues. Figures from the National Health Service (NHS) show that least 1 in 4 people experience mental health issues each year. Among the working population, about 77% have experienced symptoms of poor mental health at some point in their lives. It is also a subject that is often poorly understood by both those experiencing the issues and those who employ them. According to the Thriving at Work report, poor mental health is costing employers at least £33 billion each year. Roughly 300,000 people lose their job over mental health issues each year. However, despite the prevalence and cost, past evidence suggests that employers and employees have been reluctant to address mental health issues in the workplace.
Our research so far suggests that one of the biggest barriers to seeking help is that individuals are worried about what others – be it friends, colleagues or their boss –may think of them. Despite high profile efforts to the contrary, at a grassroots level mental wellbeing is still a taboo subject. In this context it is not surprising that most people tend to withhold personal information of their mental wellbeing. However, research also shows that 8 out 10 people find that just by talking to someone about their mental health could help, showing that steps can be taken to improve wellbeing in the industry.
Drafting the survey to cover this topic was not an easy task. Because mental health is such a sensitive and personal topic, a major challenge was to overcome the prejudice that people usually have with mental health issues, and to reassure those taking part that their data would be treated with strict confidence in accordance with our industry code of conduct. Therefore, we drafted questions so that respondents would feel comfortable and encouraged to answer honestly. In addition, as mental health is quite a complex issue, designing a survey that captures all aspects of this issue while making sure it does not turn out too long was also a major challenge.
With the help from The Benevolent, welfare officers and respondents of the pilot tests, we hope we now have an effective piece of research. We have taken great pains to ensure respondent anonymity – all analysis will be done at group level and no answers will be linked to any individual’s identity. We have also tried our best to keep the questions non-judgemental and hypothetical. For respondents who would like to share a bit more, we have put in several open-ended questions.
Developing this project together with The Benevolent is certainly a unique experience for Wine Intelligence and something we hope to do more in the future. By talking to experts and stakeholders, we recognise the importance of creating a stigma-free environment for members of the UK drinks industry. Working in the drinks industry can be difficult and it is important for employees in the industry to be able to talk about their wellbeing. There is still much work to be done on this front and we really appreciate The Benevolent’s effort for making the head start. If you have not already received a link to the survey, please follow the link below (it also appears at the top of this article). We hope the results of this survey will be able to shed some light on the current conditions of mental health and help us create a better, friendlier and a stigma-free workplace for all the employees and their loved ones in the UK drinks industry.
Would you like to take part in this mental health campaign? If you work in the UK drinks industry in any capacity, click this link to participate in the survey.
Please also feel free to forward the link to others who you think would qualify to be respondents – the more people we hear from, the more effective the survey will be at capturing the issues.
Author: Ya-Ting Fan