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The Importance of Mental Health Awareness During Covid Times

mental health, mental health at work, mental health first aider...

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I recently caught up with a friendly HR professional who has over 20 years’ service in a large corporate and told me about some of the measures that his company had implemented to help its’ employees during the Covid pandemic. These included a 24-hour employee hotline, a dedicated Covid intranet site, and ongoing wellness briefings for managers to ensure they keep an eye on their employees and build exercise and wellness breaks into their daily working schedule. It was clear why my contact has been with this business for so long. They have made employees’ wellness a top ongoing priority - as it should be in these troubling times and indeed in general.

 

Mental health is one of the most challenging themes in modern HR. It is sometimes tough for employers to engage with this topic, due to the enduring stigma surrounding mental health issues and the general lack of knowledge around best practice in this area of HR. By and large, mental health’s effect on a business is difficult to measure except when it translates into absences, that are often not directly attributed as such. Therefore, mental health is often a cause for concern and used as a reason to exit an employee from a business rather than keep them in.

 

In the age of Zoom and remote working, employee connection and the sense of belonging that comes from being part of a physical team, is more important than ever, especially for those who struggle with conditions such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse. For those employees in “at-risk” groups, the changeable work practices that Covid has engendered are some cause for concern. Job uncertainty, the need to socially distance and isolate or even to furlough, and an impending climate of recession, could worsen the prognosis for those whose mental health is already fragile.  

 

Individuals who have mental health concerns benefit from being in an office environment where social interaction and human contact can help to make the working day more fulfilling and ease feelings of loneliness and isolation. For those with anxiety, where social interaction is more complicated, changing these interactions needs to be carefully managed as they do ultimately help in treating anxiety if the patient feels in control of their pace and frequency.

 

As we come out of lockdown, working practices may not necessarily all return to normal either. Homeworking may become the new norm, and office space may be less occupied than ever. So moving forwards, we need to think about how, as employers or recruiters, we can ensure that candidate mental health is acknowledged and nurtured in an environment where face-to-face contact will become more limited and sporadic. So here are five tips we would encourage you to try to nurture your mental health:

 

  1. Meditation – just 5 minutes a day will improve your mood, concentration and outlook. Who can’t spare five minutes a day?
  2. Reduce sugary foods – cutting out sugary snacks or energy drinks will help to stop dips and spikes in energy levels throughout the day and ultimately reduce cravings.
  3. Exercise – 30 minutes a day will help to improve the circulation and release endorphins and generate more of that “feel good” factor that we are all craving.
  4. Spend time in nature – being in nature and present (leave tech gadgets in the office) will help you to re-connect with your true purpose and put more intention into your day.
  5. Laugh more – life is far too serious nowadays. Take some time to enjoy life and the little moments that count, like a tea break with a colleague. You will become more productive for it!

 

At Fjord, we place a strong emphasis on employee wellness in all senses of the word, and we live our values by including a healthy focus in everything we do. Our business director is a trained mental health first aider and acutely aware of the motivational impact of a healthy workplace on employee output. 

 

Let’s not be afraid to start a conversation around mental health in the workplace – Fjord want to know what do you or your business do to promote positive mental health within the workplace? 

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