While mental health may not be your top priority at this moment, mental health concerns during this pandemic are expected to increase as a result of Covid-19, the measures we have taken to prevent it, and the looming economic crisis. Since this ‘coronacoaster’ began, more than two-thirds of adults in the UK reported concerns about the effect the pandemic is having on their life. The emerging evidence has highlighted that twice as many adults are experiencing symptoms of depression; 86% of employees stated that remote working is having a negative impact on their mental health and 69% of employees stated coronavirus is the most stressful time of their career.

Mental health affects your ability to work productively, socialise, and live long healthy lives; all of which are integral to your business’ employees. If people do not receive adequate support at work this will result in poor performance, higher staff turnover, and a loss of income to the company. The lockdown has unfortunately introduced an array of potential triggers for poor mental health: we have all had to adjust to working from home and isolating from our loved ones; nearly a quarter of families are single-parent families meaning that one parent has been balancing home-schooling their children and working from home; there have been pay cuts, furlough schemes and with the evident economic crisis, hundreds of thousands of redundancies are to be expected. Domestic and child abuse support hotlines saw a huge increase of calls five times greater during lockdown; holidays, birthdays and weddings have been canceled or postponed; and the hardest of all, saying goodbye to loved ones who may have lost their lives, yet not being able to say goodbye in person or at a funeral. I could go on, but I’m sure it’s obvious that if one in four people suffer from a mental health condition in any given year, a pandemic can only ever increase your chances and early intervention is key to ensure a better outcome for the individual as well as the business.

With the greater risk of mental health concerns during these unique circumstances, it is vital to ensure your company has a mental health strategy in place to ensure a smooth transition back to normality and promote optimal performance. Here are some of our recommendations to ensure a smooth transition back to the ‘new normal’ and what your mental health strategy needs:

  1. Reassure staff members that safety measures are in place and what their working day will look like.

To reduce anxiety on returning to work, let your employees know what changes are to be expected in the workplace so they go in feeling informed and prepared, not uncertain and anxious about the unknown.

2. Take time talking to people and reconnect with your team

For those of you working in teams or managing a group, don’t rush back to your desks. Set up an informal (and socially distanced) team meeting to catch up on the past few months. If you can, take time to ask them how it’s been for them, listen to each other’s experiences, and readjust to the work environment. This will help individuals feel valued and supported.

3. Risk assess

We know that many people are going to go back to work with depleted mental health so it’s important we understand the risks now that there will be changes in the workplace. Particularly if you’re on graduated return or working rotas in and out of the office, the impact these new measures will have on one’s mental health could be significant to some. We can help you complete a new stress and mental health risk assessment to help you understand these risks and identify things you can put in place to reduce them.

4. Mental health awareness and mental health first aid training

Now that it is even more likely that an employee will experience poor mental health, mental health awareness and first aid training is vital to recognise, assess and assist anyone struggling. You will learn the basics of each common mental health concern and leave with confidence with how to help someone and signpost them to appropriate help.

5. Update policies and make employees aware of them

Your sickness absense policy is going to have to make room for the impact of C-19, so your mental health and wellbeing policies should too. Even if you don’t have a policy, now is a crutial time to introduce one to make sure that if an employee is struggling with their mental health, wherever they are in the business the help and support will be the same.

There are many things we can do to better your organisations mental health strategy, not just the ones above! It’s important to note that every workplace is different and comes with a new set of challenges, particularly now we have to consider C-19. Therefore, getting professional advice on your mental health strategy is important to make sure the wellbeing of your employes is adequately supported. Contact us today for your free consultation and we’d be happy to help.