We all have mental health and at Mental Health at Work we express this on a continuum, from health to illness, with issues in the centre. We naturally move along this continuum at some point in our day, week or year from health to issue and most of us will move back to health without needing assistance.
During the COVID-19 crisis, many of us will find that we are moving away from our mental health more regularly, towards issues and finding it more difficult to move back to health. Working from home, or rather being at home during the crisis and try to work, alongside homeschooling and concerns about loved ones or our own health, brings new challenges.
Working together with the Mental Health Foundation, we’ve come up with some tips to help you to manage your mental health at home and at work and a signposting guide for further support. We’ve summarized the content in this article, but if you would like a full copy, please register below and we’ll be happy to email this onto you.
Getting Into A Routine
Our routine and rhythm of life has changed; avoiding the commute or school run, might have sounded idyllic a few months ago, but working from home can be challenging and isolating for many people. Setting up a new routine can help with this, including where you work, when to start, break for lunch and particularly when to finish. It can also be helpful to set clear tasks for the day and indicate to colleagues when you are available to speak.
Keep The Formal And Social Flow Of Work
Your interactions with colleagues should be both structured in the form of meetings, but also unstructured in terms of social time. The use of video is key to really be able to pick up the non-verbal signs that can indicate how someone really is. Some organisations are including virtual drinks, coffee breaks and quizzes and if this can be really useful in injecting some normality to our working situation.
Use The Support That Is Available
This is a challenging time for all of us and more than ever we should all feel comfortable asking for support; this might be a confidential chat with a colleague or a Mental Health Ally, accessing Employers Assistance Programme or discussing with your line manager. It may be that you need to request reasonable adjustments to maintain your mental health as well as supporting any existing mental health issues and this could a different start time to manage homeschooling or flexible lunch breaks to shops for an elderly relative.
This can be a blessing and a curse and if we can work to ensure it is the former then this can have very positive benefits for our mental health at work. Video calling can seem uncomfortable at first, but those non-verbal signs are vital for effective communication and a sense of connection; and not just for meetings, using video for general check-ins and social calls with work colleagues.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help with technology. For many of us, from time to time technology can be challenging, so make use of your IT team and very often there is a team member who will be all too happy to demonstrate their competence in this area.
If you’d like to find out more about how to look after your own mental health, the Mental Health Foundation has produced a guide, which you can access here.