May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it began in the US in 1949 and has been promoted in the UK since 1992. The annual campaign aims to highlight different aspects of mental health; this year’s theme from Mental Health Foundation is loneliness.
According to the Government Tackling Loneliness report published in February this year, COVID-19 highlighted the importance of social connection and showed many people how difficult it can be when you feel isolated. They state it’s important that we continue to talk more openly about loneliness, building on our shared experiences.
The Mental Health Foundation say that loneliness is not about the number of friends we have, the time we spend on our own or something that happens when we reach a certain age. Loneliness is the feeling we experience when there is a mismatch between the social connections we have and those that we need or want. That means it can be different for all of us.
Loneliness at work
Loneliness and a lack of face-to-face contact were key psychological issues facing people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, research by Nottingham Trent University shows. But it’s not only home workers who can suffer from a lack of contact. The best way to support all your people is to encourage a culture focused around shared goals enabling a strong network to be established.
Wellatwork recommend making casual check-ins part of the everyday routine. Starting internal meetings with check-ins on how people are doing, or what they’re doing at the weekend may seem like a small change, but it can have a big impact on how your team feels, and can make it easier for people to speak up if they’re struggling.
It all started with…
There are many ways to improve mental health at work, but the first step must be recognizing either yourself or someone around you is struggling. Even small changes can make big differences such as:
- Leaving work at work by agreeing boundaries with your team on when to answer emails
- Saying ‘no’ to social media by setting time limits for a day, a week or a month.
- Step into spring by committing to getting outside and clocking up 10,000 steps a day.
- If you have an Employee Assistance Programme, engage with them on information sharing such as how to connect with them.
Paying attention to mental health has never been so important. The time to start conversations about mental health is now.
Mental Health Master Class
Most line managers feel competent in supporting employees with a physical illness; unfortunately this is not always true when faced with a colleague who is experiencing mental health issues. At Sue Connelly Wellbeing, we have over 30 years experience in delivering training that provides line managers with the confidence to not only understand common mental health symptoms but also to support their employees in their mental health.
If you would like a chat about how we can help you, then please contact me.