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COVID-19: Mental Health and Moving Forward

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown to ease strain on the NHS hasn’t been easy for any of us.

As well as business and the economy at large being affected, it has affected so many of us on a personal level.  Whether you have lost loved ones or contracted the disease yourself and have had to self-isolate; or maybe you have been furloughed by your employer or even been made redundant there are many things that could have happened.

Situations like the above all increase our feelings of stress and anxiety.  It is important not to brush these feelings aside, but rather to recognise them.

Firstly, you need to recognise that you are suffering from stress and you may be able to identify with some of the following:  trouble sleeping; eating more or less; loss of patience with others around you and in particular in your household – you may have a partner who is also trying to work from home or you may be home schooling your children; increase in alcohol consumption; fear of going “back into the world”.

Whatever you might be experiencing, it is important to remember that so many others are going through the same things and that there is help available if you need it.

You need to be wary of “fake news” on social media channels and use only sources that are professional and accurate.  Use social media positively.  There are many sources of good information available on in the internet on the following websites: NHS, gov.uk, HSE, IOSH, World Health Organisation (WHO) to name but a few.

From an employer point of view, it is vital to keep in contact with staff that are working from home and even those staff who you have had to furlough.  Just being there to listen to any technical problems they may be having as a result of home working or, in the case of those who are furloughed, you can provide reassurance that their position within the Company is still viable and that they are a valued member of your team. Something as simple as this can help overcome a sense of isolation for people.

The charity, mind.org.uk is also available for people to access for non-urgent information about mental health support.  For more urgent support or for people who wish to speak to someone anonymously, they can contact the Samaritans who are open 24/7.

Whilst COVID-19 is a high-risk disease that can affect anyone, it is also important to remember that businesses still need to consider the other risks to health and safety within their organisation and ensure that controls are in place.

Over the coming weeks and months there will no doubt be further changes to government guidelines regarding the virus and their recommended controls, however, businesses must look at their individual situations and act accordingly.  That is to say that any relaxing of the guidelines does not mean that companies need to adopt these strategies, if they don’t work for them.

As people start to return to work, it is important for employers and colleagues to support each other and to be aware that some people may be struggling more than others at this time, so we all need to be patient with one another.

If you would like to make use of any of the websites mentioned above, we have sourced the below links that should help you to access the information you require:

Samaritans – Mental Health Charity.  Contact details:  Website: www.samaritans.org.  Phone number: 116 123 (the call will not show on your phone bill and is free of charge from UK landlines and mobiles); Email address: jo@samaritans.org;  Address:  Chris, Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, Stirling, FK8 2SA

Mind – Mental Health Charity.  Contact details:  Website: www.mind.org.uk;  Information Line: 0300 123 3393;  Email address: info@mind.org.uk

NHS – National Health Service.  Contact details:  Website:  www.nhs.uk

IOSH – Institute of Safety and Health.  Contact details:  Website:  www.iosh.com;  Phone number:  0116 257 3100;  Email address (for general enquiries):  reception@iosh.com

Government Website:  www.gov.uk

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Website:  www.hse.gov.uk

World Health Organisation (WHO) Website:  www.who.int