From Pregnancy to Parenthood: How Employers Can Support Maternal Mental Health
April 25, 2023
Welcoming a new life into the world can be one of life’s greatest gifts, but the path to parenthood is paved with worries, questions and sleepless nights, not to mention possible obstacles of emotional and physical trauma.
Your organisation has a role to play in promoting positive mental health for every member of your team, but prioritising new and expectant mothers in the workplace is essential.
Did you know that:
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 8 partners develop mental health problems during the perinatal period
- 17% of women leave employment in the 5 years following childbirth
Neglecting maternal mental health can result in lower productivity, increased absenteeism, and a higher employee turnover rate, all of which contribute to a widening gender pay gap. Let’s explore some actionable strategies that HR leaders can use to create a supportive work environment for new and expectant mothers.
Offer Flexible Work Options That Empower Parents
Life can get hectic, especially for new parents; according to a recent survey, 71% of working mothers believe that flexible work arrangements are critical for their mental health and well-being.
Employers, it’s time to step up and offer flexible work options that can make all the difference. Whether it’s remote work, flexitime, or job-sharing, you’ll help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance, reducing stress and increasing productivity in the process. Your company will benefit too, with happier, more loyal staff who are ready to give their best.
Make Parental Leave Their Choice
In the UK, eligible employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, with 39 weeks paid. Encouraging employees to take advantage of their leave entitlements is crucial, but it’s equally important to respect each person’s individual experience.
Not everyone will want to take a full year of maternity leave, and that’s okay. Some may feel that getting back to work sooner will have a positive impact on their wellbeing, some may choose to share the time off with their partner, and others may choose not to return at all – and the fact is, any option is ok. As HR leaders, it’s important to create policies that respect these individual choices and support employees in making the decisions that work best for them. By encouraging open communication and respecting each employee’s individual experience, you can create a culture that empowers and supports new and expectant mothers.
Create a Parent-Friendly Work Environment
Maternal mental health is often brushed under the rug. Normalising the experience of parenthood and the conversation around mental health will show your whole team you care and set the stage for a healthy, positive work environment.
Forward-thinking employers are turning to a range of benefits to support new parents’ emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. These include on-site or nearby childcare facilities (proven to prevent women with children from leaving the workplace); remote-access, expert-led lactation support; and designated nursing areas for breastfeeding. Setting up a mums group, whether as a Slack channel or an in-person coffee morning, can provide all-important connection and support for new and expectant mothers.
Promote Training and Development Opportunities
Returning to work after maternity leave can be challenging for new mothers. HR leaders can support them by providing training and development resources specifically tailored to their needs. Online courses and workshops can offer flexible learning opportunities that work around their schedule, and career development opportunities can help them maintain their skills and progress in their careers.
Give Mothers Specialised Care, At Their Fingertips
Mental health issues are common amongst new mothers, but professional help is rarely sought after. But what if employees could access top-notch expert-led support right at their fingertips?
With Peppy, they can! By giving your team Peppy, you’ll connect them to real, human health experts via chat, live events, and virtual consultations. Your employees will receive one-to-one expert support with a team of midwives, health visitors and lactation consultants. Plus, they’ll have access to a treasure trove of on-demand content to guide them on their journey.
Offering access to personalised care, such as support from Peppy, can help new and expectant mothers manage their mental health and prevent questions or concerns from escalating into something more serious.
You have the power to make a real difference. By implementing these five strategies, you’ll help to support maternal mental health in the workplace and create a healthier, happier work environment. So, let’s do this! Let’s transform your workplace and show your employees just how much you care.