The pandemic has exposed our global mental health crisis more than ever. For some people it has alleviated stressors around commuting, lack of time or distraction in the office for example, but for others it has exacerbated existing stressors or created new ones.
The trouble with mental health is that it is invisible, and it can be very hard to for us to tell how that person is feeling behind their smile on your zoom call. We know that people are going through a tough time, with calls to mental health helplines up 800% since lockdown started in March. Businesses cannot afford to ignore this.
So, what is one of the most widely available, simple, and free techniques we can use to support our employees? Well, the first step in improving any health and wellbeing related issue is self-awareness. This requires us to turn down the noise in our environment and look inward. There will always be a little whisper inside telling us what we need to hear; to slow down or re-establish our boundaries for example, but most of us are too swept up in the day to day to notice. The same goes for other people in your team. If we cannot take the time to pause and spot the signs that we are struggling ourselves, how can we identify them in other people?
A simple recommendation to get started is to ask yourself how you are feeling, really feeling, on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being at an all-time low and 10 being bursting with happiness. Notice where you sit on the scale and consider why you feel that way. Perhaps journal this, share with a friend, add notes on your phone or even record a voice memo for yourself. After this, commit to one thing you are going to do that day to help improve or sustain this level. That is where the second key to wellbeing comes in… self-responsibility.
This simple activity can be translated in a business setting too because there is still a lot of stigma when talking about mental health at work. In fact, a 2019 Mental Health at Work study conducted by Business in The Community, found only 49% of employees feel comfortable talking with their line manager about their mental health. Using the 1-10 scale amongst a team or on a one-to-one basis, acts as a very simple yet powerful tool to grow compassion and empathy within the team, between line manager and employee, and realise that everyone no matter what their job title is, will have good and bad days.