How to support mental health during these unsettling times

By Anthony Wolny | 11th August 2020 | 7 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an enormous amount of change with the introduction of furloughing, an increase in home working and a huge shift in our day-to-day.

The current situation has taken a toll on many people, especially those who have been living alone for the past few months, have sadly lost a loved one, or if mental health was already an existing challenge for them.

To help you through these turbulent times, we’ve highlighted a few factors you can look to implement in your HR strategy to support the mental health of your workforce.

Communications are key

While communicating with employees during the pandemic may seem simple, it can be challenging as traditionally we focus on talking, informing and problem-solving rather than listening and empathising.

When employees are dealing with a challenging time, in most cases, they want to feel understood and heard which your messaging should reflect.

Additionally, we frequently hear from employers and HR professionals that they worry about communicating too much but during these uncertain times, keeping everyone in the loop is vital to supporting mental health.

Consider using regular newsletters and updates that include not only business information but local news and team achievements to help remind employees that they’re part of a team.

Eliminate prejudice

A huge step to supporting employees with their mental health is eliminating any prejudice surrounding the topic.

Whatever negative labels your organisation attaches to mental health consciously or unconsciously needs replacing with understanding.

“Mental health is just a human condition and depending on what storm of life is passing us by, we’re all prone to these moments.” – Hazel Lowndes, Founder, Ginger Dog

The more we relax our own humanity, and the less we judge people for underperforming during challenging periods, the easier it will be to support their recovery.

Invest in Mental Health First Aiders

Having a Mental Health First Aider for anyone who is struggling can be incredibly useful, guiding employees in distress to the relevant help and providing informed advice.

Also, using individuals from outside the HR team can be very valuable as it encourages better communication within the business.

“Some feedback we received was that people didn’t want to approach the HR team, but they were keen to speak with an independent Mental Health First Aider if they were struggling.” – Marie Walsh, Employment Lawyer, Consilia Legal