Good mental health at work

For many of us, work is a huge part of our lives, both in time and mental capacity. Having a fulfilling job, and a job you enjoy can be good for both your mental health and your wellbeing. It also brings structure and a sense of teamwork into your life.

Sometimes it gets on top of us

We all want to be able to leave work at work, but sometimes it can get on top of us. It could be deadlines, travel, learning something new or a company culture not being what you expected. But along with the many ways you can help yourself stay well (covered in a different blog!), there are various things that your employer can or should be doing too .

Employers Responsibility

Mental health first aider

Many companies have a “mental health first aider”. Their role is to be a first point of contact for someone who is experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. The contact could range from an initial conversation, or supporting the individual to get appropriate help. Ask your line manager if you have mental health first aiders within your company.

Employee Assistance Programme

Many companies offer something called an Employee Assistance Programme (or EAP) provided by different companies across the country. An EAP is a confidential programme that supports employees with personal and/or work related problems that may be affecting your performance at work or your mental wellbeing. Each EAP is different, but many offer similar services including:

  • Confidential 24/7 helpline
  • Counselling sessions (this usually has a limit)
  • Access to a website with various well being tools (i.e. videos, or worksheets)
  • Access to a range of advisors (I.e. financial, legal)

Information discussed during any sessions with the EAP is 100% confidential. The company you work for will not receive any information disclosed during your meetings.

Duty of Care

Employers have a duty of care to their employees to do everything they reasonably can to support an employee’s health (both mental health and physical health) and well being. This includes:

  • Providing 121 time between the line manager and the employee, to give the employee the opportunity to discuss any issues that may arise.
  • Ensuring the working environment is safe.
  • Ensuring that all team members have the correct tools to complete the job role.
  • If necessary carrying out risk assessments, and putting into place any required reasonable adjustments.

Reasonable adjustments are sometimes required, and are something that can be discussed with your line manager, this is great example of the importance of communication as very often it’s quite straightforward to tweak arrangements without impacting your ability to do a good job. This might be a later starting time, whilst an individual settles into new medication that affects their sleep, or increased working from home time in a hybrid working environment, as travelling could increase anxiety. This could also mean a temporary flexible working contract (if the company allows) to help with something on a short term basis, or increased breaks. The key thing is to talk, and to take forward your questions before anything  starts negatively impacting your mental health.

Where to go for help

It’s a big topic, but if you feel things are getting on top of you always talk to your friends, family or GP. You might also find useful information in the following places;

Acas is a great support for further help.

Mind also has some great information.

What is normal?

Covid has had a huge impact on how we now think, work, and interact with each other.

Before Covid we were commuting, clogging the roads, trains, and buses. Enduring the lengthy travel time and having to stand on public transport when you’ve paid a small fortune. Being faced with an armpit on the tube or watching 2 road users exchange hand gestures as one got an inch further. Before Covid, we were just popping in to see Nan, having to make time for the gym or to do the dreaded weekly food shop. We were physically attending appointments – yes face to face with a human! Being available to attend Johnny’s school play and dare I mention the word ‘Holiday’ and taking a break with the family. And yet this normal was ‘how it always was’

Normal has a new meaning

The past few years has given ‘Normal’ a new meaning, a new way of working, a new way of interaction. For all the growth and change and adaptation that has happened in the past years, it is hard to even define what a post-pandemic normalcy might mean. The dictionary defines it simply as conforming to a standard — usual, typical, or expected. Can we go back? Do we want to go back to that normal?

What’s your normal?

So, here we are ‘Getting back to Normal’ what is your normal? For me impossible things have become possible: maintaining relationships online and now Nan has a tablet and is learning all this digital stuff! Uncle Jimmy chats to his brother in Australia using his device and our children are doing homework online. We now attend GP appointments over the phone and not waiting in a surgery sitting next to someone coughing and spluttering, having to take time off work or asking Aunty Mary to please come ‘Sit with the Kids’ whilst you attend.

We’re enrolling on college courses and learning online and don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to meet and chat with fellow students, but we now have more time for us and the whole work life balance thing. Technology has embraced the new ‘Normal’ and things are more accessible to everyone these days and that’s a good thing, right?!

Slowing down

Life has slowed down just a bit and if we sit back and think about it, has everything been bad? For many of us, the pandemic has given us the opportunity to slow down a bit and focus on the essentials. Whether it be spending more quality time with our children, taking time to phone a long-lost friend or relative, or having a video chat with friends and family, chances are we have had the opportunity to reconnect with people you haven’t talked to in a long time. We’ve thought about more than just ourselves.

Through the pandemic, it was easy to go into despair. But many of us have found a way to do good for others, whether it be by delivering groceries and prescriptions to our elderly neighbours that were too high-risk to go to the grocery store to donated to a GoFundMe site for a family in need. Stories of people doing good for others have been on a historic rise over the last year, and that’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

So, what is your ‘Normal?’ I’m liking this new ‘Normal’ and I’m gonna stick with it!!