NZZ promotes mental health in the workplace

The job of a journalist can be stressful. The NZZ company therefore created a range of offers to support the mental health of its employees in the workplace.

"We want to address this taboo subject at the NZZ not just skim the surface, but approach it with the necessary patience and steadfastness to set a clear guardrail for managers and all employees to promote and maintain mental health," says Felix Graf, CEO of NZZ. "We have therefore expanded our offering in this area." Since January 2022, the company has been working with the independent organization Per Mente Sana together. All employees of the NZZ can contact a team of experts from Pro Mente Sana anonymously at a specially established e-mail address if necessary. To raise awareness among managers and employees, appropriate training courses have been held and information material provided. Managers are recommended to attend a half-day course in order to recognize signs of change in employees at an early stage. The offer was also introduced at the request of managers.

"The issue of mental health in the workplace has gained additional urgency as a result of the pandemic," says Nicole Rütsche, Head of HR NZZ. "With this in mind in particular, we were concerned that people should be able to turn to a specialist if necessary." That's why key people at HR are currently being trained as first aiders, who can take on a pilot function for those affected if necessary and organize faster treatment options. Because despite a relatively high number of treatment providers in Switzerland, it is still difficult to get an appointment promptly, says Thomas Ihde, MD, president of Pro Mente Sana. Access to help, a working atmosphere that is as trusting as possible, and a fear-free climate for mental health are the most important factors for employees' mental health, he says.

Taboo-breaker Jonas Projer

"Overall, it seems that the way mental stress is discussed in a company and how it is assessed is crucial for the future mental health of employees in a company. Stigma can be influenced."

In a recent report published in the SonntagsZeitung published interview, Jonas Projer, editor-in-chief of the NZZ on Sundaythat he himself had reached his health limits after the introduction of the digital NZZ Magazine and had openly addressed the issue in the editorial team. "As a boss, a culture of transparency and mental health is enormously important to me. In today's world, this should no longer be a taboo subject," Projer said. He sought professional help and took time off. He then returned to the newsroom stronger than ever.

Mental health is not only an issue at the NZZ. The Young Journalists Switzerland (JJS) association already set a focus on the topic of mental health last year after it became known that some members had already suffered burnout when they were under 30. The industry needs to talk more openly about the topic, otherwise young talent will be lost, the association said. According to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), mental illnesses are among the most widespread diseases of all. Those affected are impaired in all areas of life. In addition to personal suffering, mental illnesses also cause high economic costs. Estimates by the FOPH put the annual cost at over 7 billion Swiss francs.

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