Making time for mental health

Making time for your own mental health

A recent survey by Mercer found that companies in the UK have ranked deteriorating mental health of their staff as their top human resources risk.

One of our members in the healthcare industry would like to share their thoughts on this important topic. 

Guest blog

I write this as many of us will have already returned or be planning to return to our offices, following decisions across our four nations here in the UK, to lift most if not all pandemic restrictions.

Any day can now result in anxious feelings, for many reasons. Even without the added pressure of a global pandemic, many of us will have difficult commutes, unreliable transport options, the dreaded ‘Monday morning’ feeling. On top of that some of us have school-aged children, no wrap-around childcare anymore, and many will have different responsibilities to those we had in early 2020.

In many ways the world has changed. In many ways things have stayed the same.

Some of us won’t have been inside any workplace for months. For those who have there were new routines to learn, new ways of having meetings not to mention rules on how lunch breaks and trips to the bathroom were taken. Whilst these can return to a state that we were familiar with, people are asking questions about the change in rules and how they affect our work lives, for example:

  • Do we want things to go back to how they were?
  • Are we comfortable taking transport with other people?
  • Do we want to spend hours per week commuting?
  • What feels safe and what inconveniences that I used to tolerate, are now intolerable?

I am comfortable working at home. I have been here since March 2020. I like that my commute has gone from overcrowded trains to a few steps to an (albeit hastily constructed) desk in my living room. I enjoy watering my plants before work and having a coffee outside during the day. I’ve built a ‘new normal’ for myself, where I can exercise before or after work, sometimes during, pop out on errands over a flexible lunch time, be ‘at home’ at a reasonable time. 

I’ve also built a world where I am never far away from my laptop and can always see my impromptu set-up. It’s too easy to wander past and check an email or two, and harder to make the distinction between work and home. Winter was tough. I forget which lockdown we were in at that point, but cold, gloomy, wet days looking at the same four walls was challenging. Summer is better, longer days bring a different kind of hope.

Many of us in internal audit roles will recognise that our days can be hard anyway. We are often delivering audit outcomes that are not welcome, challenged on how we selected a sample, having to defend our methodologies and processes. Doing this in isolation away from the support of a team can amplify how difficult our job is. I miss team de-briefs and sharing office tales. I don’t feel that the intensity of work has dropped over the last 18 months – we set-off working from home at pace, and this hasn’t receded.

To me, the need to manage mental health through the pandemic has highlighted the importance of what we perhaps implicitly used to do – wherever you find yourself, it is important that you look after your wellbeing and mental health. 

For some the pandemic may have brought different, not always welcome, news, while others may have had new opportunities and challenges to contend with.

It is critical to remember that there is no shame in seeking to look after yourself – rather, it should be celebrated. Some of the simplest to access tools available include:

  • Your organisation’s mental health champions
  • Corporate or health insurance helpline support teams
  • Your GP including any direct-access or self-referral NHS services in your area.

Most of all, be kind and support your colleagues, friends, and family. Say when you’re not OK. We never truly know the path that has brought someone into our lives, so in a world where we can be anything – be kind.

There are lots of charities providing support across the country.

If it helps, use The Hub of Hope to find a service near you.

 

 

Content reviewed: 1 September 2021