Has there ever been a more relevant time to promote the understanding of mental health? The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on everyone no matter age, culture, socio-economic status or gender. We have all had to adapt our way of life in some way or another. None more so than in the way we work; whether it be from home or returning to the workplace. The effect on our mental well being may, in some cases, have been quite overwhelming.

Returning to the workplace may induce a range of feelings whilst we deal with the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19. Stress levels may rise as we have to mix with others and concerns over the spread of the virus increase. Our workload may increase due to colleagues being absent or no longer with the company. Our own fears of losing our jobs will also increase the stress level.

Anxiety levels over using public facilities and transport may increase. Coming into contact with others who may have the virus or indeed concerns of transmitting it to our own loved ones will increase our anxiety. This may also induce feelings of guilt. These anxieties on top of financial issues, job uncertainties and family concerns can impact massively on our mental well-being.

Remember, it is normal to have these feelings and using positive coping strategies will help. Try and stay connected with people. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings – a loyal friend or family member; be careful who you choose – you need positivity, not negativity. A chat over Zoom, Whatsapp or text will reduce your stress levels as you relate with someone familiar and friendly.

It is important to stay connected but be wary of the influence social media and the media have on your wellbeing. If you are finding that you are spending a great deal of time following stories on Twitter or Facebook and this is causing anxiety due to the nature of what you are following, try to reduce the amount of time you go on or indeed, what topics you are actually following. Mind has some good advice on how to manage online mental health

Meet up with a friend or family member for a socially distanced walk. The exercise and the companionable chat will make you feel so much better in yourself. It will help you view your situation with fresh eyes.

Take time for you. Take up a new hobby, resurrect an old one, take regular exercise and review your diet. Are you getting enough sleep? The feelings you have been experiencing may upset your sleep pattern. Getting enough sleep is crucial to dealing with our day to day challenges. Try using the App Sleepio to help improve your sleep pattern. Possibly reducing your alcohol and caffeine intake may help to reduce the levels of anxiety you are experiencing and aid a better nights sleep.

Finally, it is so important to talk. Discuss the feelings you are experiencing with your line manager, mental health first aider or a trusted colleague. There is no right or wrong way to feel during these stressful times, neither is there any shame in asking for help. It is not a sign of weakness nor uselessness. These feelings can affect anyone at any time. We all need to be aware, support each other where and when we can and look after ourselves.

Helping others also helps us to improve our mental well-being. Why not become a Mental Health First Aider in your workplace? At TLCT we can offer a Level 2 Award in Understanding Mental Health or the Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace L3 Award. These accredited qualifications provide you with the skills to recognise the symptoms of some mental health issues and how to support your colleagues in their time of need, signposting them to professional help when required. Both courses are delivered online with an online assessment.

We are currently developing a half-day Mental Health Awareness course. This shall be available very soon. Further information will be posted on our website in the coming weeks.

We look forward to meeting you on one of our training courses in the not too distant future. In the meantime, look after yourself and others and keep safe.

Some support links you may find useful:

Mind 0300 1233393
CALM 0800585858
Mental Health Foundation