To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, Lindsey Appleby-Flynn, Mental Health Expert for HIT Training and Connect2Care shares her tips on supporting mental health during lockdown.
Our daily lives, work and relationships have experienced huge upheaval from the impact of COVID-19 in recent weeks. These unprecedented times are affecting us in different ways and bringing a range of challenges for us to overcome.
Social distancing, self-isolating and temporary closure of our hospitality establishments are the biggest changes we’ve had to adapt to.
Being away from friends, family and colleagues, as well as abandoning our daily routines and responsibilities can lead us to feel lonely, frustrated and a bit lost. This, combined with health worries, financial anxiety and uncertainty about the future, can result in underlying mental health issues coming to the surface.
During these unsettling times, protecting our mental health and those of our colleagues is of utmost importance. To help you navigate these tough times, I’ve included five ways you can support the mental wellbeing of your teams. Including ideas for managing difficult conversations, providing a support system for the workforce and helping to boost morale.
Offer a listening ear
While it’s more essential than ever to check-in with colleagues to see how they’re coping, it’s also important to remember that people may find it difficult to come forward and express their worries or ask for help. By offering a listening ear and regularly checking-in shows that you care and makes it clear that you’re willing to talk when the time is right for them.
Keep conversations going
It’s critical to maintain an open dialogue among team members and bring them together, even if they aren’t in the workplace. An effective way to do this is by providing your employees with ways to continue learning and up-skilling. Many of our employer partners have found that by continuing their employees’ learning or providing an opportunity to learn new skills, their workforces are increasingly engaged and passionate about returning to work after lockdown
Someone to turn to
Embracing mentor schemes is a great way to encourage team members to talk to one another and feel supported. Businesses should ensure mentors are briefed on the latest information and have undergone relevant training, such as Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health, so they feel equipped and empowered to support others.
Check ‘fine’ really means it
We all know that if someone says they are ‘fine’, it isn’t always the case. When we are going through challenging times it’s no surprise that people don’t want to burden others, which can lead feelings of anxiety or stress to build up.
It might sound simple, but by double-checking if someone really is fine, or by saying “no, how are you really feeling?”, can encourage them to open up. If someone does express any feelings of worry or anxiety with you, it can help to relay what they’ve said back to them, to show you’re actively listening and make sure you’ve understood them correctly.
Remember we’re all different
We all react differently to difficult situations and it’s vital to remember that people will be impacted in different ways. While we’re all uncertain about the long-term effects this outbreak will have on our lives, some of us will have increased anxiety about the health of loved ones, others will have decreased job security, financial worries, and some of us will have concerns about the effect on our children’s education.
In periods of uncertainty, the workforce will need to focus on family and other demands outside of work. Introducing or promoting flexible working hours will help to ease pressure on the workforce by helping staff manage other commitments – as well as maintaining business continuity.
There’s no question that the hospitality industry relies on its people. Our businesses thrive as a result of excellent teamwork, hard work and collaboration. During these challenging times, it’s never been more important to look after our mental health and wellbeing and listen to each other’s concerns. By continuing to support each other, as an industry, we can remain resilient and weather this storm together.
To provide more in-depth guidance to support the mental wellbeing of your workforce during these difficult times, HIT Training has created a free to download e-guide on ‘Providing wellbeing support during the COVID-19 outbreak’.
About the author:
Lindsey Appleby-Flynn has a wealth of experience at supporting individuals through mental health crises. She’s HIT Training and Connect2Care’s First Aid for Mental Health Instructor and trained in applied suicide intervention.
HIT Training is the leading specialist training and apprenticeship provider for the UK’s hospitality sector.