With many businesses working remotely, Ian Snow, MD at CT, takes a look at the importance of maintaining your workforce’s mental health – and CT partners Champion Health share the signs to spot in employees and colleagues
Over the past few months we have looked at what measures and processes business owners should consider to ensure business continuity and improve the security of their new hybrid working environment. While it is imperative that this is a key priority, we are also looking to the health of our team and supporting any employees that may be struggling with uncertainty and change as a result of COVID-19.
We are aware as a business we need adapt and implement a range of measures to support employees experiencing poor mental health. We know we need to support employees to regain an effective work-life balance, address fears about return to work, right through to support for severe mental health conditions.
Through the work we have done we have previously done with Champion Health, we know that spotting the warning signs of mental health problems in our friends and colleagues is already pretty difficult. When we’re socially distancing and working remotely, this might feel nearly impossible – but there are things we can all look out for and pick up on.
Champion Health have highlighted four key areas in which you may notice changes in your friend or colleague, which include behaviour, emotions, thoughts/cognition and physical sensations.
Your colleague’s actions (i.e. behaviour)
Your colleague might have stopped replying to your messages, or maybe you’ve noticed they aren’t keeping up with their work. A slight change in behaviour is to be expected given the adjustment to lockdown, but keep an eye out for those who don’t seem to be adjusting well. We communicate a lot about how we feel through our actions.
What they are feeling (i.e. emotions)
If your colleague feels able to talk to you and share their emotions directly, take time to listen without judgement and don’t try to solve the problem straight away. Being there for them in that moment will be enough. If your colleague isn’t as forthcoming, there are more subtle changes to look out for, such as appearing quieter or more irritable than usual.
How they are thinking (i.e. cognition)
Mental health problems often affect the way we think. If your colleague is struggling, they might be more preoccupied by their thoughts, experiencing ‘brain fog’ and finding it difficult to concentrate – all signs you might notice during a conversation or in a meeting.
How they feel it in their body (i.e. physical sensations)
This is harder to tell from an outside perspective, but have they mentioned feeling more tired or run down than usual or they’re having trouble sleeping? These could all be signs their mental health is taking a toll on their physical health.
Noticing these difficulties in isolation doesn’t mean your colleague has a mental health problem. Instead, it can simply encourage us to start a conversation about mental wellbeing and check in with how they are feeling. You never know, you might be the lifeline they’ve been waiting for.