Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind
Many employees are struggling with their mental health as a result of the pandemic. If you are one of them, don’t be afraid to ask your employer for help.
Now a year has passed since the initial lockdown, it’s a good time to reflect on our own wellbeing and make the most of any support available from our employers. This time last year, many of us found ourselves hastily packing up our things in the office and began working from home for the first time. Few of us realised just how long these new arrangements would last or what other challenges might be thrown our way.
Mental health problems are common
It’s completely understandable if you’re struggling with your mental health more than usual. If you’ve noticed changes to your thoughts, feelings and behaviours that last longer than two weeks, keep returning and are affecting your daily life (including work and relationships), speak to someone you trust, ideally your GP.
Your employer’s duty
It’s in your employer’s interests to look after your wellbeing. Those who invest in staff wellbeing typically report increased staff morale and productivity as well as reduced sickness absence and turnover.
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a legal duty to put in place reasonable adjustments to support any disabled employees. This can include staff experiencing mental health problems in certain circumstances.
Adjustments could include changes to working hours, roles and responsibilities. We also encourage employers to offer support measures and adjustments to anyone who is experiencing poor mental health, regardless of whether they are covered by the Equality Act.
Those who invest in staff wellbeing typically report increased staff morale and productivity as well as reduced sickness absence and turnover.
Adapting to the changes
Any wellbeing initiatives offered by your employer should be easy to access virtually. Mind employees are offered flexible working hours, access to an Employee Assistance Programme and reflective practice sessions with a trained counsellor.
It’s important we look after ourselves too. Try to get some physical activity into your day, ideally outdoors in nature. Get outside at lunchtime if possible, given vitamin D – even in low levels – can improve our mood.
We encourage managers to regularly create the space for staff to talk about any issues they’re facing – inside or outside work so hopefully your manager is checking in with you.
Working from home can make it harder to find a work/life balance. At the end of the working day, try to put some physical distance between you and your workspace, such as by going for a walk, cooking, doing an online workout or contacting a friend.