This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and never has it had more significance than in our coronavirus lockdown world of 2020.
60% of the UK workforce is currently working from home and this brings numerous, well-publicised challenges. Whether it be trying to educate your children whilst working a full-time job, trying to keep fit and active under lockdown or simply not being able to collaborate in-person with your colleagues, working from home can create all manner of extra stresses and strains above and beyond those we all experience in the normal course of our working lives.
Thankfully the narrative around mental health has changed dramatically in the last few years with many celebrities speaking out about their own struggles, helping to break the stigma that has for so long been a barrier to open, honest discussion. This has filtered down through society, and now schools across the United Kingdom even have pupils appointed as Mental Health Ambassadors, offering support to their peers and educating the next generation early that everyone has mental health – good or bad.
I am hugely lucky to work for a business that prides itself on its culture of supportiveness. Two of rEvolution’s Core Values are ‘We Put People First’ and ‘We Are A Team’, and if you drill down into these further you find principles, such as ‘We support and respect each other and the community at large’. But we can always be striving for improvement (another principle!) and that is why last year I undertook training as a Mental Health First Aider.
After completing the course, I wrote about what a powerful and inspiring experience it was, so I won’t cover old ground. What I will say is that I had hoped it would prove to be another resource for the team to utilise that would make everyone feel more supported in the office, but I had no idea whether people would take it up or not.
Clearly there is a level of confidentiality involved here so I will not discuss specific conversations but I have had teammates approach me about issues they are facing themselves, both big and small, work-related and personal, and I have had others who have expressed concern for teammates and recommended I reach out.
Crucially, none of this has gone on hold because we are all now working from home.
On a personal level I hope that the support I have been able to provide based on the training has been beneficial, but, more importantly, I hope that as a team we have been able to foster a more open and kind working culture than we were already lucky to have.
And this leads me to the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week: ‘Kindness’.
We’ve all heard of businesses and industries that have been built on competitiveness, ruthlessness and a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality. The sports industry, in many respects, is one of these – at least on the field of play. But it shouldn’t take research to tell you that happiness increases productivity and creativity.
Being kind to your teammates (or anyone for that matter) almost feels like it should go without saying, but it is worth repeating. Small acts of kindness can have big impacts, both for the recipient and yourself.
And finally, be kind to yourself. If you are not in a fit state of mind to support someone else, then take the time to get back to where you need to be mentally – particularly as we all get through the lockdown.
Please feel free to confidentially get in touch if you would like to talk about anything mental health related. There are a number of useful tools and thought-starters included throughout the article.
You can also find alternative information, support and advice at the following resources:
- Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/
- Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/
Article by George Gilmore, rEvolution’s UK-based Business Director