WTTC releases mental health guidelines for travel and tourism sectors

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The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched its new mental health guidelines to help businesses of all sizes in the industry support their employees.

The mental health guidelines build on the diversity and inclusion guidelines released by WTTC in 2020, going one step deeper to focus on mental wellbeing.

The guidelines aim to help businesses better prepare for the recovery and rebuilding period following the COVID-19 crisis, and come at a time when mental health could not be more important.

Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed that 95 per cent feel that poor mental health affects their performance at work, while 85 per cent say it is difficult to concentrate when struggling with poor mental health, and 64 per cent feel that it takes them longer to complete tasks.

Furthermore, research conducted by the World Health Organization revealed a US$4 ($5.20) return in improved health and productivity for every US$1 ($1.30) investment in improved treatment for common mental disorders.

WTTC compiled these guidelines with the help of leading health authorities and private sector leaders, and are divided into four pillars:

  1. Developing a supportive system.
  2. Creating safe spaces.
  3. Supporting an agile system.
  4. Exemplifying support for good mental health.

Examples of the guidelines include:

  • Provide appropriate mental health support within the organisational structure to the extent possible. This could include access to professional and specialised 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 wellbeing, at all levels of the organisation, and does not ostracise 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 president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said the organisation was proud to release the guidelines, which will help travel and tourism businesses of all kinds and their employees.

“The sector employs people from all socio-economic backgrounds regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, with almost 50 per cent of whom are women and up to 30 per cent youths,” she said.

“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.

“Furthermore, throughout its very nature, the travel and 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.”

Featured image source: iStock/Xesai

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