Mental Health is undoubtedly a hot topic at the moment, barely a day goes by without a related story reaching the headlines. And rightly so, for too long people have suffered in silence afraid of attaching a label to themselves.
Mental Health Awareness Week, which ran from 13-19 May, sets out to get us all thinking and talking about ways to support those who may be struggling. We take a look at the importance of a year-round approach to mental health awareness in the workplace.
Mental health at work
For many of us, work is a major part of our lives. It is where we spend much of our time, where we get our income and often where we make our friends. Having a fulfilling job can be good for your mental health and general wellbeing.
When we did our annual Games and Interactive Salary and Satisfaction Survey we wanted to look into this as while we all now understand how important work is in keeping us healthy, is that being translated into actions?
What we found is that in the Games industry almost half (48.9%) of the people we spoke to said they felt mental illness had affected their work and a staggering 88% thinking employers should be doing more.
Issues such as focus, delivery of work and difficulty making decisions, exhaustion, doubt, loss of motivation and belief were common amongst responses when asked about what was causing issues at work.
Mental Health in the Games Industry
As anyone in the Games industry knows, whilst it can be a fun dynamic and creative place to be with lots of exciting perks, it can also bring stress and pressure in equal measures. The dreaded Crunch is still a big issue, with studios imposing tough deadlines, long days and little downtime in the lead up to release.
This way of working can not only amplify pre-existing mental health concerns but quite possibly ignite new ones.
So with Mental Health Awareness Week in mind, we wanted to take a look at some ideas of what Games studios could be doing better and also celebrate the studios that are leading the way in creating a safe healthy working culture.
What Game Studios Could be doing to improve Health and Happiness for Staff
If studios take the time to listen to their staff and what’s important to them this could go a long way to helping.
One of the most important aspects of work for those in the UK is work/life balance (31%), followed by exciting projects (23%) and company culture (17%). And it’s the same story in Europe, exciting projects (36%) and work/life balance (27%) were top of the importance list.
Respondents from our Games and Interactive Salary and Satisfaction Survey made some suggestions as to how studios could work to aid mental health issues:
- Remember everyone is a person with a life, not just a resource
- Provide assistance finding mental health resources, especially for expat employees
- Make it more acceptable to use mental health as a reason to take sick leave
- Employ 'Mental Health First Aiders'.
- Being mindful of toxic individuals and provide help and support to anyone on the receiving end of this toxic behavior in office, in the community and online.
- Give flexibility (remote work, flexible hours...) to employees to deal with personal issues
The key thing that underpins all of these suggestions is communication, respect, and support. With a little understanding, businesses can really start to make a big impact on the health and happiness of staff. We spoke to a couple of studios who are making strides in doing just that...
Studios that are Smashing Mental Health
Jagex has been involved in the battle against mental illnesses for some time now. This year they have a number of excellent initiatives from a live Reddit Q&A with their charity partners You Are RAD as well as donating the sales from Avoiding Dental Catastrophe Easter event and Solomon’s Store revenue for that period to all three of their charity partners CPSL Mind, The Prince's Trust and You Are RAD - a total of £168,000 ($219,000)! Incredible!
The team over at Gobo have implemented Mental Health Officers. This year they have organised a mental health audit by Mind which will take place later on in the year.
“The audit is very good because it provides an analysis on where we currently are and creates a recommended plan that we can implement to make sure we’re doing all we can to be mindful and supportive here. The index ranking is then published, and they have awards too.”
Guy DeRosa, Head of Talent | Studio Gobo & Electric Square
If there are any other studios doing anything else to promote health and wellbeing in the office, we’d love to know. Please share!
Do you need urgent help?
If your mental or emotional state quickly gets worse, or you're worried about someone you know - help is available.
You're not alone; talk to someone you trust. Sharing a problem is often the first step to recovery.