This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is being linked themed around Kindness.
Depression and anxiety are among the UK’s biggest killers with it being the leading cause of death among those aged between 20-34 years. It is estimated that absences from work due to mental health conditions costs the UK economy £42 billion a year in lost revenue, and with the long-term impact of the Coronavirus remaining unknown, it is feared this will rise.
There are many who are struggling to be productive at home or are becoming anxious after long periods of lone-working and equally there will be many more who may struggle to re-join a staff team as restrictions are lifted further.
There are some simple things that employers and team members can do to make confronting these issues easier. Research has shown that showing genuine kindness to a colleague can improve an individual’s overall wellbeing – regardless if you are the one giving or receiving.
What an employee can do:
· Pick up the phone or use a video platform rather than just email
Speak to a colleague that you have not spoken to in a while
· Make time for the chit-chat, ask how someone is feeling and listen to the answer
· Make plans and look forward as a team, pencil in socials that you can do now virtually or in the future face-to-face
· Don’t eat lunch at your laptop
· Where possible, keep your work area and home area separate, if you have not got the luxury of a home office try to de-clutter and tidy at the end of each day
· Take regular breaks to walk around and get some fresh air, we are all restricted in our everyday movements, so it is important occasionally break the norm
· Take advantage of free training, learning and webinars to exercise your mind and keep you motivated
· Do one thing for someone else each day.
Ultimately, we all want to feel valued and as humans we all desire levels of social interaction which can go a long way to improving employee’s overall wellbeing.
What an employer can do:
· Train your staff (especially managers) to understand mental health issues and to spot the signs of poor mental health.
· Have a culture where mental health conversations are not taboo.
· Create a Wellness Action Plan (WAP) to help employees manage their own mental health, more information and download available here
· Offer a phased return to work schedule for roles that can still work from home initially.
· Arrange a full team/department “team building” session or training opportunity when the office re-opens and it is safe to do so.
· Communicate positive message where possible, around looking ahead and post-outbreak activities.
· Engage with a HR professional or department to put measures and support in place from an early stage.
For employees to be productive in the long term, employers will need to be flexible, adaptive and sympathetic to individuals’ feelings and circumstances. The more you invest in People now, the more they will invest in your business in the future. More information for employers can be found here
Previous articles in this series for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020:
Monday 18 May 2020 – On Your Side
Tuesday 19 May 2020 - Be Kind to Yourself