Without question, the pandemic had a significant impact on our collective physical and mental health not just in the UK but worldwide. Our frontline and other essential key workers are particularly at risk of poor mental health outcomes and burnout. Researchers at the University of Portsmouth, UK, released results of the largest study to date on the mental health of British security officers and found that among the 750 security officers interviewed for the study, 40% were showing signs of PTSD.
“With almost 40 per cent of those surveyed exhibiting symptoms of PTSD, it leaves a very clear message that the issue of mental health is not currently being taken seriously by security managers.”
– Professor Mark Button, Professor of Criminology in the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth
Another survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonprofit organisation focusing on health issues in the U.S., found that essential workers are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, starting or increasing substance use, and suicidal thoughts.
Taking care of the physical health of our key workers (the UK recognised security offices as key workers early in the pandemic) has always been a central priority for security companies. Still, they shouldn’t overlook the importance of mental health in overall health, happiness and relationships, and even job performance.
It’s essential to invest in your security officers’ physical and mental health by providing them access to the mental health and well-being services they may need. The companies that know where to invest their time, energy, and resources and communicate that to their employees will stand out as they embrace future challenges.
To battle loneliness or feelings of isolation, which is all too common sentiment during the pandemic, managers and supervisors should check in regularly to see how their employees are doing personally and professionally. Take an interest in your security officers. Ask them about their everyday lives, their families, and the activities they pursue outside of work. Take note of their birthdays. Small gestures, even a simple “Hello, how are you? How’s the family?” go a long way toward making your officers feel appreciated, respected, and connected.
Strive to build a culture that embraces work-life balance, in which your security officers feel valued. Be sure to schedule regular meetings with officers, either in-person or virtual. Actively work to stay engaged with your teams. Encourage officers to check in with each other to ensure that everyone in the company feels connected.
If your security officers often work alone, ensuring the safety and well-being of your security officers also confirms your commitment that, as a security company, you are complying with your health and safety obligations towards your security personnel. Consider using a security workforce management solution with a lone worker system so that you are always aware of where your security officers are. These systems – which include GPS tracking and other key features – are designed to ensure that your workers are always safe and secure and receive the support they need when dispatched to new sites or locations.
If you are concerned about issues surrounding loneliness, feelings of isolation, or the mental health of your security officers, help is available.