Mental health is top of the list in terms of employment priorities. We spoke about the pros and cons of working from home in a previous blog – Home sweet home.
With the challenges and benefits of home working, the pandemic has brought with it a great deal of uncertainty. There is no greater trigger for increased mental stress than uncertainty and this, combined with fear of the impact of the illness, plus sudden change to the domestic scene, becomes a hot bed for increased mental, and indeed, physical stress. If you combine this with the fact that, in some cases, children are at home and are, themselves, facing mental stress of shifting to home education, which is an even greater shift for our children than for us, the potential for mental overload is enormous. Additionally, there is fear about financial security.
The combination of fear of illness, sudden shift to working at home, overload of uncertainty and change plus the limited social outlet is a deadly combination for overloading our mental hard drives. With the enormous increase in communication and social media, there is more information available and those who ideally could use some therapeutic intervention, cannot afford it at stressful times such as these.
Mental health conditions still carry some stigma in the workplace and of the 60% of employees suffering from mental health conditions, research indicates that only 11% of those feel able to ask for help. With the enormous gaps in ability to provide response and to ask for help, the role of the employer becomes much more important in this field and the sooner an individual is helped, the better the result and response.
So, what can employers do? The first thing is that employers need to watch for signs of mental issues in the workplace, but now the workplace is often remote, this means that employers should take further steps to get to know their employees and we have developed a health model, below, to help to guide managers.
Encourage employees to look after their physical and mental health by:
There are also many organisations, including charities, who can provide help and your handbooks could be used as vehicles for highlighting the appointment of, for example, mental health first aiders and what other sources of information there are.
The first step is always awareness and it is interesting to note that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have launched a new campaign with the NHS and Public Health England encouraging people to look after their mental health in lockdown. The campaign, called ‘Every Mind Matters’, encourages everyone to sign up for a tailored ‘Covid-19 mind’ plan online and has free resources on specific issues such as low moods and poor sleep, and access to activities like breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
If you would like help, please pick up the phone, we can start by revising your policies and help with implementation...