With working from home now part of many people’s everyday lives, Mental Health, increasingly is a topic that we should be bringing to the forefront of our minds.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the usual support your team perhaps had access to in your workplace will not be as accessible or it may be that you do not have anything in place at the current time.
It is important to remember that working from home presents many challenges for individuals, this can vary from loneliness, their routine will change and start to work longer hours, they can become under pressure. Many individuals have childcare responsibilities or find it difficult to cope with minimal social contact.
They may find it hard to look after their mental health and wellbeing and in fact for a while you and they may not notice the signs.
Some common feelings may include stress or anxiety, if an individual already has a mental health problem and you are aware of this it is important you plan for every eventuality, where you are not aware of any history or none exists you still need to plan time in to speak to your team members, this will allow you to provide support and where necessary signpost for help.
To help support your team’s wellbeing you can:
- Stay in regular contact with Team Members
- Buddy them up – this can help them to talk to other Team Members
- Plan a daily and weekly schedule – this will provide focus
- Ensure a structure for the day is set, for example start and finish times, not forgetting rest periods
- Schedule activities that do not necessarily include tasks
- Plan social activities – online events, virtual coffees and quizzes etc
- Focus on positive contributions
What to do when an individual needs help?
As soon as you become aware a Team Member has a problem, act fast that way you can provide the support to help them work through their problems, encouraging your Team Member to open up and talk is the first step and normally the hardest.
It maybe they are feeling overwhelmed and you can help with the workload, they may have childcare responsibilities that they need to manage.
At this stage you may want to discuss changing working patterns to suit your Team Members situation. This may be as simple as changing start and finish times.
It is also important to communicate what kind and level of contact you would like. Talking over the phone or through Virtual Online Meetings are a great way of keeping in touch with you and other Team Members and not forgetting having online social events with everyone.
What if the concerns are about working outside of the home?
Many individuals are concerned about their own personal safety at work, this includes Health and Safety and how it may impact mental health, if you have Team Members who are working in your workplace, returning from Shielding or Furloughed leave you should:
- Meet with them individually to discuss their concerns, this would form part of a return to work
- Share your Covid-19 Risk Assessment, this will allay their fears about returning to the workplace
- Listen to their concerns and where relevant, necessary and reasonable act on their concerns
- Be supportive and caring
- Introduce reasonable adjustments where necessary
What support may you be able to offer through your workplace?
As an Employer you have a ‘duty of care’. This means you must do all you reasonably can to support your Teams health, safety and wellbeing.
It maybe that in your workplace you offer:
- Extra support in the form of counselling, if you do offer this, it will usually be through a scheme known as an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
- Mental health ‘champion’, this is someone in the workplace who leads on changing attitudes to mental health
- Offer support in other ways, such as a mental health support group, or mental health network with other businesses or organisations
What other Mental health resources are available to me?
You can find a whole host of support on looking after mental health during coronavirus, see the ACAS mental health tips and videos.
You can also find advice from:
- NHS Every Mind Matters
- Mental Health at Work
- Mental Health First Aid
- Mental Health Foundation
You can also use the ‘Wellness Action Plans’ to put steps in place to support your Teams mental health. Find out more about Wellness Action Plans from Mind.
How can the HR and You team help you?
We are here to support you during Covid-19 and have produced a range of downloads for you to use in this range, you can contact us to learn more or to ask us anything at all about Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing.