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