Mental health resources during coronavirus

Many of us may feel concerned or anxious, having less control over how we work and live our lives. This is a normal response and there are things you can do to support your own – and other people's – mental health and wellbeing.

Our top tips

  • communicate clearly and openly
  • use and adapt what has worked for you before
  • prioritise looking after yourself and your staff
  • use support that’s available


Everyone

2 minutes

Looking after your own mental health

In this video, June Sarpong OBE shares her tips on looking after mental health at work and the things you can do every day to help support your wellbeing.

June Sarpong OBE shares her tips on looking after your mental health at work. 

[Caption: June Sarpong OBE]

June Sarpong: Hello, I'm June Sarpong, and I'm here today to talk to you about wellbeing at work.

Of course, we've all been going through a very tough time with the COVID crisis. And adjusting to this new way of working has not been easy. And that means that the way we look after our mental health matters now more than ever. And it means that also, we have to take that time in our day to actually check in, check in with ourselves internally, to see how we're feeling emotionally, and how that, of course is impacting the way we work and the work that we do.

For me, the thing that I have found to be incredibly helpful is to actually schedule my day and still find time in the morning to be able to prepare myself mentally for the day. So in the morning, I wake up and I do a little bit of meditation. But the thing that I have found the hardest is the monotony of it all. One day sort of just blends into another, and you kind of lose track of days. So I like to take that time in the morning to centre myself.

The other thing that I've tried to do, but I haven't done well enough is to take time to go for daily walks, just to clear my head and also to get some physical exercise in the process.

And then finally, I think the thing that we all have to do is to check in on each other, make sure that you are having perhaps deeper conversations with your colleagues than you would ordinarily. And then just to remember, we're not always going to be here. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and eventually, we will be able to be together again. But what I hope is that when we are together again, we think about the things that we have learned during this crisis that perhaps can make sure that the new way of being is even better.

So if you want some ideas on how you can support your mental health at work, take a look at the Acas website. They've got some great ideas and tips on things that you can do to make yourself feel that much better. Choose something to do today, because mental health really matters.

[Caption: For more help on your wellbeing at work visit: https://www.acas.org.uk/mental-health-resources]

Our tips for everyone

  • reflect on what makes you feel more positive
  • keep in touch with people regularly, including your manager
  • get support if you need to, in a way that works for you
  • have a routine and structure your day with activities you enjoy
  • look out for and support other people

Podcast on strengthening your resilience

Our resilience has a significant impact on how we work and how we feel at work. Francoise Woolley, head of mental health and wellbeing at Acas, shares her insights into the small but powerful steps we can take to strengthen our resilience.

Listen to 'Top tips to strengthen your resilience' on the Acast podcast player.


Managers

2 minutes 30 seconds

Supporting your staff's mental health

This video looks at how line managers can support staff, how to respond when someone is struggling and the importance of looking after our own mental health.

Julie Dennis, Acas head of diversity and inclusion, speaks to Abigail Hirshman, Acas head of workplace mental health.

Abigail Hirshman: Hello, Julie! It's really nice to see you. How are you?

Julie Dennis: I'm fine, Abigail, it's lovely to see you as well today.

Abigail: Good, good. So I'm really glad that you're here to talk to us about managing mental health, because I think it's been clear for quite some time how important managers are in promoting and supporting good mental health at work. And given the current situation, this is now even more important.

And I'm just wondering, you know, how you as a manager – or your management colleagues – what they're doing to keep themselves well, and make sure that they maintain their boundaries, and make sure that they keep themselves well during this time.

Julie: So I think one of the first key things we need to remember, as managers: we are people as well. And I think it's remembering that you cannot help others if you're not helping yourself.

It's like, you know, the oxygen mask scenario. You'd always put your mask on first before somebody else, because you'd be no good to anyone. So it's about making sure that you look after your own health and your own mental health during this time.

From a personal point of view, I'm finding that chocolate is really helping, you know. But actually being able to talk to your peers, you know. I'm really lucky at Acas, I work alongside a fantastic leadership team. And I can talk to them and they talk to me, and we make sure that we look after each other.

But it's also be able to recognise that you will not have all the answers. Some of the things that have happened since this pandemic, there are things that we never would have imagined we'd have to do and you're not expected to know the answers. But I think it's proved to us as human beings, how versatile we are, how we've been able to adapt to different situations.

So I think it's, you know, don't beat yourself up if you don't know the answer. If you're dealing with an issue, remember that you can always go and get advice yourself. And be kind to yourself! Give yourself a break. And like I say, it is hard at the moment, but laughter is another thing that's got me through as a line manager. So again, when you're having those virtual catch ups with your team, adding some fun into that, again, will do you good as well as your people.

Abigail: Excellent, excellent advice. So I think, laughter, chocolate and kindness are what I'm going to take away from this discussion.

Julie: Definitely.

[Caption: For more guidance on mental health: www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus-mental-health]

Our tips for managers

  • do not make assumptions
  • keep in regular contact with your staff
  • agree clear expectations and boundaries
  • reassure staff that their safety is the priority
  • look after yourself and get support if you need to

Training and events for managers - mental health

Our remote training courses, events and conferences can help you manage mental health at work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Find out what events and training are being held by Acas.


Employers

2 minutes

Supporting positive mental health at work

In this video, June Sarpong OBE shares her tips for promoting good mental health at work and the things leaders can do to support their team and colleagues’ wellbeing.

June Sarpong OBE talks about leadership and mental health at work. 

[Caption: June Sarpong OBE] 

June Sarpong: Hi, I'm June Sarpong, and I'm here to talk to you about mental wellbeing at work. And today, I really want to focus on leadership and what leaders can do to really support their colleagues and those that work for them during this crisis. 

Now, for me, as a leader in the workplace, I try where possible to be a role model. And that means looking after myself mentally and emotionally, and demonstrating that to the people that I work with. Check in with everybody and see how your colleagues are doing. And if there is anybody struggling, perhaps also create a safe space where they may be able to share that if they feel comfortable doing so. 

The other thing as well to acknowledge is that home life has become work life. And that in itself is incredibly stressful. And that's putting pressure on relationships. So I would also suggest as a leader, where possible, if you're not even sure how to support your team fully, to bring in experts into the organisation that can talk about mental wellbeing, and can also offer tips and suggestions. 

The other thing I think as well when it comes to role modeling is important to demonstrate that it can't all be work, work, work. Switch off your computer past a certain time. Don't answer calls past a certain time. Also, make sure that you set aside the times within the day where your colleagues and those that work for you can actually take a break. 

The final thing that I would say is also be gentle with yourself, as a leader. Understand that these are trying times. It's very strange the way that we are working, and you as a leader will also make mistakes. So in the same way you're being gentle with those that work for you, be gentle with yourself as well. 

If you're looking for ways to support the mental wellbeing of your workforce throughout this crisis, then please check out the Acas website. They've got ideas for quick wins and solutions for longer term strategies. There are also advisers on hand that can help you make a real difference. 

[Caption: For more help on your wellbeing at work visit: https://www.acas.org.uk/mental-health-resources]

Our tips for employers

  • adapt what has worked before
  • help managers support their staff
  • listen to and address staff concerns
  • encourage people to talk about mental health
  • communicate clearly, often and honestly

Podcasts on how to improve wellbeing at work

Workplace wellbeing strategy in practice – with the Ministry of Defence

Finding the best way of improving wellbeing in your team or organisation can be challenging. In this podcast, Martin Short from the Ministry of Defence shares how he created a wellbeing strategy using the Acas framework for positive mental health, and how you can influence others in your organisation to make wellbeing a priority.

Listen to Workplace wellbeing strategy in practice on the Acast podcast player.

The business of mental wellbeing – with Fujitsu

Evidence shows that investing in mental wellbeing at work brings significant benefits. Sarah-Jane Littleford from Fujitsu shares how to overcome stigma when talking about mental health and what that looks like in practice for Fujitsu during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Listen to The business of mental wellbeing – with Fujitsu.

For every £1 spent on mental health, organisations get £5 back on average

More helpful resources

Training and events - mental health

Our remote training courses, events and conferences can help you manage mental health at work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Find out what events and training are being held by Acas.

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