Keeping Mentally Fit

With recent headlines such as “The recession is here – Get ready for the mental health pandemic” and figures released by the Office for National Statistics that the number of people in the UK affected by depression has risen from one in ten to one in five since the same time last year – there is no better time to ensure that we are all taking care of our mental health.

Psychiatrists and workplace experts have warned that the UK must prepare for a potential mental health crisis.  A global survey by Kantar Health found that since the start of the pandemic, the proportion of people who are experiencing depression symptoms has risen from 7% to 11%.  FirstCare, an absence tracking firm, announced that the number of people taking 20 or more days off with a mental health issue rose 22% year on year between April and June this year.

The statistics continue to be bleak.  An ACAS-commissioned YouGov survey found that nearly 40% of employees working from home during the pandemic have at some point felt stressed, anxious or experienced mental health difficulties, due to their working situation.  The poll also found that almost 50% of people working from home felt isolated and around 70% missed social interactions with colleagues.  Furthermore, data from a joint study between the ONS and the charity Mind, also shows a rise in issues such as depression and anxiety during lockdown.

As we continue to adapt to the global pandemic, many have felt worried, anxious and many different emotions.  As restrictions are updated, there are still a lot of uncertainties and challenges on the horizon.  The way we live, work and socialise has and will continue to change.

FSL, like other companies, relies on a workforce that is healthy and productive.  Research shows that when employees feel their work is meaningful and they are valued and supported, they tend to have higher wellbeing levels, be more committed to the company’s goals and perform better.  However, it isn’t possible to be perfect or happy all the time.  We are not weak for admitting when we can’t cope.

It is said that “We can’t control how we feel, but we can control how we respond”.  Mental health problems are normal, and there is support out there for those who seek it.  The Mental Health First Aiders at FSL have compiled a few tips to help look after your mental health and wellbeing.

  • Try to focus on what you can control, not what you can’t.
  • Prioritise self-care activities.
  • Make the distinction between work & home. Get out of the workspace even if it’s the room next door.
  • Take regular rest breaks and continue to take annual leave.
  • Do something creative that helps take your mind off your worries.
  • Set little goals to aim for.
  • Make time to ex Getting outdoors and into the fresh air can help your mind as well as your body.

If someone you know is feeling anxious or worried, you don’t need to be an expert on mental health to support them.  The Mental Health First Aiders at FSL suggest the steps from the Time to Change social movement:

  1. Check in – Whether its talking face-to-face, picking up the phone, having a video call, starting a group chat or messaging someone on social media – let them know you are there to talk and ready to listen.
  2. Listen and reflect – If someone opens up to you, remember that you don’t need to fix things or offer advice. Often just listening, and showing you take them seriously, can help someone to manage.
  3. Ask questions – Ask how people are managing, and ask again if you’re worried they aren’t sharing the full picture. Asking again, with interest, can help someone to open up and explore what they’re feeling.

There are also lots of organisations that offer assistance:

The Samaritans are there to listen at any time of day or night.  You can talk to them about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how difficult.  Call free on 116 123.

Shout offers confidential 24/7 crisis text support for times when you need immediate assistance.  Text “SHOUT” to 85258.

NHS Every Mind Matters helps people to take simple steps to look after their mental health, improve their mental wellbeing and support others.  Click here for more information.

CALM have lots of advice and information about mental health.  Visit the Calmzone.

Mind are a mental health charity with a wide range of information about mental health.  Look for support on their website.