Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic
Whether you have been on furlough, been made redundant, are still working from home or able to work in the office safely, good mental health has become increasingly important in 2020, the year of coronavirus.
As we approach World Mental Health Day on 10th October, we look at how you can look after your own mental well-being in both the workplace and outside of the (home) office.
Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. There are many forms of mental health issues; anxiety and depression are the most common, which can be caused by work-related issues. Uncertainty can cause anxiety and depression and these are uncertain times.
How can I look after my mental health?
Looking after yourself in whichever way you prefer, whether it is some form of physical activity or taking a few minutes out of your day for some quiet contemplation, is key for positive mental health. As well as work, technology and social media seem to be an important and often integral part of many people’s lives and daily routine. However, having a break from this and making time for some form of exercise or walk can be beneficial, especially out in nature (if possible) or the local park if you live in the city.
During lockdown earlier this year, there were various avenues open for people to explore to help with their mental health. From ‘PE with Joe’ workouts on YouTube (although this is a form of physical exercise, this has been shown to be beneficial in having good mental health) to free meditation/mindfulness content on the Headspace app, some of us have stuck with these as they have been inspirational and have assisted many with their mental health.
Many employers are offering Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or services, and there are various charities who can help with improving mental health such as Mind or Mental Health Foundation, both of which have excellent websites and resources.
It is important to give yourself time and space to express feelings during times of uncertainty, such as during the coronavirus pandemic. Those who have unfortunately been made redundant may experience low self-esteem as it is possible they have always been employed, but it is important to remember that this situation is not their fault. It is vital to focus on things that can be controlled, as well as accepting that some things are simply out of our control. Then we can focus on moving forwards in our lives.
What can employers do to support mental health?
It’s important that employers are supportive and encourage staff to feel able to talk about mental health issues. This leads to a positive working environment with improved morale. Here at Barcan+Kirby, we practise what we preach. 17 members of our staff are trained MHFA England Mental Health First Aiders and are able to recognise common mental health issues and provide staff with the support or signposting they may need. We also have an Employee Assistance Programme available to all our employees and have created a Mental Health and Well-being policy.
The way an employer manages mental health also sends a message about the organisation’s values, not only internally but externally as a recruiter and employer brand. Now more than ever, jobseekers are considering an employer’s approach to well-being as a factor in their search, and with many of us continuing to work from home, employers need to keep the conversation around mental health open to retain their staff.
Unfortunately, as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end, there is further uncertainty. Some of us face the prospect of the Job Support Scheme and different working hours. Some of us face challenging times through redundancy and may have settlement agreements to deal with, as well as the challenge of looking for new employment or even re-training into an area for a new career.
For those who find themselves facing uncertainty, having the right legal support behind you can help ease some of that stress. Our experienced commercial and employment law solicitors can advise you on legal issues around redundancy and settlement agreements. Our expert teams can provide practical support and talk you through your options.