Focus on mental health after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted

Throughout the pandemic, the uncertainty and worries have heightened the mental health issues everyone has to deal with in their daily lives. On 9th February, Boris Johnson announced that the last Covid isolation rule could be scrapped a month early. That would mean we’ll be back to ‘normal’ life, in terms of work and socialising, although it’ll hardly feel fully normal to most. Employers should be mindful of the impacts the pandemic has and will continue to have on their employees. The effects will vary between individuals so listening to employees is important.

The Mental Health Foundation has put together a very comprehensive guide for employers are leaders to help support employee wellbeing. These tips were written to offer help through the lockdowns but many hold true just as much outside of lockdowns roo. The main points we would highlight are:

Talk to your people

Try to be honest, and start by acknowledging the stress and anxiety many have felt and may continue to feel. Be prepared to say that you don’t know and that you will come back to people with answers.  This is important whether people are in the workplace or at home. Make sure that alongside regular communication with all staff, you also communicate with line managers.

Everyone has mental health

We all have mental health. Good work is great for our mental health and it’s important that we preserve the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of work wherever we can.

Respect and compassion

Unusual circumstances might lead people to disclose mental health problems they have previously not discussed at work. Treat new disclosures with respect and compassion and make adjustments.

Promote access to support

You may provide access to support services through your workplace – if you do, make sure these are advertised well and find out whether there are specific resources relating to the outbreak.

Make sure people also know where they go and who they talk to internally. If you have mental health champions, allies or mental health first aiders make sure they have the latest information, and that if you change working practices that this network of mental health support carries on if possible.

Good absence management starts with good data. Best support for employees comes from their line manager, but the line manager will not be able to help if they don’t know how their staff are. Talking to the team is fantastic but sometimes it’s hard for an employee to start that conversation. Collecting comprehensive absence date will help line managers signpost employees to  services and offer support to employees who need it.