“Kindness” has been announced as the new theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Many organisations will be starting to consider, during these challenging times, how they can support Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 18th to 24th, within their workplaces. Whilst managing mental health should be an integral part of working life every week of the year, more than ever we need to re-discover kindness in our daily lives.
The coronavirus outbreak has taken many of us by surprise, but the one thing that we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing. There are many ways that workplaces can get involved in random acts of kindness and here are a few of our ideas:
- Video call a colleague to check in on them
- Suggest a virtual cuppa
- Offer to take team meeting minutes if a colleague is particularly busy
- Send a birthday e-card
- Take over an admin task you know a colleague is struggling with
- Notice someone isn’t themselves and take the time to ask how they are
- Start or end a virtual team call with a check in – what do you respect in a colleague & what are you grateful for.
Many organisations will also use this week as an opportunity to raise awareness of signposting and support both within and external to the company including your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), private healthcare, Samaritans and local Mind branch. This can be a focus for a virtual event or webinar either in its own right or part of a broader programme involving speakers and employees focussing on the elements of mental health support that have been important for them. We’d suggest these programmes don’t last more than 90 mins to ensure engagement.
If you have an Employee Interest Group or a network of Mental Health Allies, who have a role as expert listeners and sign-posters, then this is an ideal opportunity to ask them to support virtual events around the most pressing themes. This could be around people who have expressed an interest in sharing their personal stories, ‘masterclass’ style events on a particular aspect of workplace mental health, guidance on how individuals can manage their own mental health.
Green Ribbons are becoming a symbol of awareness and support around mental health and in purchasing them you are making a donation to the Mental Health Foundation and their work to support good mental health for all. We can still proudly wear our green ribbons at home!
The Mental Health Foundation also produces a number of ‘How To’ guides around mental health, which are useful guides to make available for individuals to help them support and manage their own mental health. You can find them here.
There is also a new area of their website which specifically supports how we can manage our mental health during the coronavirus outbreak and you can find information on this here.
Our important message for the workplace is that we need to know our colleagues better so that we can notice changes, which might indicate a move away for mental health for them and then have a conversation which might lead to signposting and support. It is more challenging in a virtual world of work, but video calls can help with the non-verbal signs and if we are to get to know our colleagues, it is the conversation that is important … and it can be about anything.