So, how’s your personal horizon looking? It’s interesting that, as pubs open and restaurants become cheaper (?) on certain days of the week, we all breathe a sigh of relief and yet still hold our breath. This is not the end but only the beginning of a new phase and we’re all slightly concerned about talk of a second wave. Who knows? So, although there is some relief, there is no certainty. We know that there are many Corona Viruses, SARS was one, and this rather strange disease does not look as though it is going to completely abate any time soon. We hold our breath about a vaccine but even that is under debate.
From a Leadership and HR point of view the fallout in the mental health arena is enormous; the financial stress has been huge and continues to have knock on effects. In some cases bereavement – both expected and the sudden and shocking – adds to our feeling of being at a loss. We almost seem to feel in some sort of time warp, and different people use different vocabulary to explain their loss of purpose. We feel isolated even in company and indeed we are all isolated to some extent. We don’t always use the most useful vocabulary in describing the new safety measures. Against this is the usual backcloth of juggling home and work, which becomes more stressful when children are at home. Some people haven’t even left the house since March 2020 and domestic violence is on the increase. Is it any wonder that our motivation is affected? When it comes to mental health issues, pre-existing factors are not always a reliable predictor and surprising things bring surprising results, both positive and negative. The numbness that some of us feel makes us irritable and Zoom, Teams, Skype and all the other communication platforms, as well as social media, leave us ever more tired.
So, what on earth do we do? Apart from all the legislation, which has holes in it and which we have to develop precedents for, we have to now increase our awareness and still be alert. I think the priority is going to be a hugely watchful eye on mental health within the workplace and a monitoring of potential bullying to ensure that diversity and inclusion are the name of the game. We have to learn to be extra vigilant about not being judgemental and having conversations that do not trigger people’s feelings of inadequacy on the backcloth of stress. We need to help individuals solve their problems rather than presenting them with more and we have to put our heads in the minds of those around us, rather than assuming they have the same values, the same mental processes and the same hot spots. Undoubtedly, building resilience within and beyond the workplace is critical and teaching people what I call ‘presenteeism’ is the only hope for mental health. If we can learn to be present in the moment, as it happens, then the future and the past become less worrying. It’s a difficult technique to get a grip of but really worthwhile.
On the back of all this is the usual reluctance to acknowledge mental health issues which you can’t see and which many practitioners are only guessing at. There’s a reluctance to get help and yet we’re trying to get our workforce back to work.
Raising awareness of mental health issues, helping individuals through training to become more resilient, talking generally about our hotspots is the way forward. As usual, communication is all.
If you’d like to look at possible interventions with dealing with some of the above, please do get in touch.