Here is another blog for everyone – as everyone has mental health, and like physical health, it fluctuates along a spectrum which can vary from good mental wellbeing to severe mental health problems.
Even before the term COVID-19 entered our vocabulary, burnout, stress, depression and anxiety were significant issues. As people have found themselves isolated or juggling family and professional responsibilities and experiencing blurred lines between their work life and personal life while working from home, it is understandable that their mental health may have been negatively affected.
Living with a mental health problem can often have an impact on day-to-day life, making things that others might not think about a bit or a lot more difficult. That is why it is so important to talk about mental health clearly and openly. Whilst you may have a concern regarding the stigma associated with mental health concerns, normalising and discussing the issues helps to overcome this and improves how mental health and mental illness are handled, to ensure individuals can access the support available to make the future of work a successful and healthier environment for all.
What remains important is that people experiencing poor mental health are not labelled by focusing on a diagnosis, and instead discussions and support focus on the impact it has on them at work. This is our focus within the University, which includes workshops on Confident Conversations, support to implement Wellbeing Action Plans, growing a Staff Wellbeing Champion Network, and tools to help manage Workplace Wellbeing.
I am encouraged by all the stories I hear from staff about what they do to support their wellbeing. I am also aware that sometimes we do nothing for ourselves or others, perhaps because we can’t find the energy/motivation or we just don’t know what to do, and therefore do nothing.
There is one concept that I have found useful in a variety of areas in my life when I have wanted to improve or change but feel stuck and that is ‘do more than nothing’.
In those instances, I ask myself “What can I do (however small) that is more than nothing?”
And, if you are struggling with your mental health or know someone who might be, I am going to ask you the same thing.
What can you do that is more than nothing to support your mental health or that of a colleague/friend.
To get you started, evidence suggests there are 5 steps we can all take to improve our mental health and wellbeing and engaging in these activities can help you feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life.
Connecting with the people around you, your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours, also there are ways to connect within the University, for example our network of Coaches or the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
Being active. You don't need to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or dance to a favourite tune. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. The Mental Health Foundation has produced a pocket guide How to look after your mental health using exercise.
Keep learning. Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. The Development Toolkit is an online learning and development resource for staff with advice, guides and self-assessments on a range of topics including personal skills and wellbeing.
Giving to others, even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word.
Being mindful and more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts, feelings and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Get some headspace might be a good place to start.
For more information on Wellbeing for staff, please visit the Wellbeing webpages.