In what has been an incredibly tough year on us all, our HR Manager – and trained Mental Health First Aider – Vikki talks about dealing with the challenges of 2020 and how important it is to continue raising awareness around mental health.
If someone had told me 12 months ago that we’d be part of a society that was restricted on the size of our social groups, that the pubs would be closed and people would be panic buying toilet roll whilst wearing a face mask… there is no way I would have believed them! We had barely removed our Christmas jumpers and settled back behind our desks at work before we were faced with a global pandemic, something not experienced for generations.
I often wonder how people dealt with the mental challenges of Spanish Flu all those years ago? The main psychological impact of this Coronavirus are higher levels of stress and anxiety – would this have been the same then? What support, if any, was given to people 100 years ago? Mental health is now widely recognised as being something we should talk about more openly as a society and although there is still work to be done, there is a lot of support available through numerous outlets than there would have been all those years ago. And this is something we encourage our team to be aware of – to remember that’s it ok not to be ok, and come and chat to us about it if it’s not.
We want to ensure we are supporting the whole team’s mental health, we recognise that everyone’s situation is unique and different personality types have different needs. As humans, we often find change difficult and so we have tried to encourage more collaboration and social interaction with team members. Workplace chats have been replicated using tools such as Slack and Zoom, we are holding online quizzes, sending fruit, and fundraising for charities (also hard hit during this pandemic). To raise awareness of World Mental Health Day on Saturday we’ve had a week of wellbeing activities including a positive thinking webinar, online yoga sessions, and each team member has been sent a #pauseformind pack encouraging them to take time out for themselves.
For me personally, as an extrovert, I have found lockdown incredibly hard. I have found that being apart from work colleagues has really tested my levels of motivation and engagement. I love people and the social interaction this brings. When government guidelines allowed, we began investigating what measures we had in place to ensure the office was COVID safe. Once these were in place and I felt secure, I came back to the office and haven’t looked back – I feel much happier! However, we appreciate that for some they have established a new routine in an environment they feel safe in and we are continually surveying our team to gain feedback on what they would like for the future.
As the number of cases continues to rise and a second wave dominates the news, it’s hard to imagine what the coming months will look like. Mentally it will be tough and with the colder, wetter weather there will be less chance to get outdoors adding to the strain. What we do know however is that our work here is not done in terms of mental health awareness. We still have lots to do to support our team through this and we are fully committed to continuing with that work and look forward to a time when we can get together for parties and celebrations.
Here are some useful links if you’re struggling at this time: