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Mental Health First Aiders: Covid-19 and mental wellbeing

Markus Offer and Helen Raggett, our Mental Health First Aiders at MGS, have pulled together some tips on ways you can look after your mental wellbeing in lockdown. 

It’s more important than ever to take care of your mental health during these uncertain times. The majority of us are now working from home or furloughed. We don’t have our colleagues to talk to face to face. We don’t have the feelings of euphoria that we get in a group atmosphere. It is vital that we stay positive, be as supportive to each other as we can remotely, and even explore some of the opportunities for working in a different way.

Anxiety and Depression

You might be experiencing anxiety or depression about the times to come and perhaps your job. It’s important that you talk about these feelings openly with someone. This could be to a member of your household, a friend, colleague, or member of your family. There are lots of ways to communicate that can help with this. I like using video chat with people and ensuring that I get a minimum of 1 or 2 calls in a day to keep me as grounded as possible, see other people and share experiences and feelings. There are lots of useful resources around looking after our mental wellbeing at this time. We’ve linked to some of these at the end of this blog and they also include organisations you can contact if you are struggling. Your organisation may also have mental health first aiders or an employee support programme so look at what is available to you.

Useful tips for fun in social distancing

I have many different groups on WhatsApp and sharing memes and videos with one another is very entertaining. I have started to engage more with some friends that I had lost contact with due to the busyness of life. There are lots of positives to take. With life and work being so hectic this also gives us much needed mental admin time. We can have more time to reflect, plan or think about how we can help others. I had some beers over Zoom with five mates on Saturday and we’ve arranged to catch up and have a drink together each week. Next week we are all doing a pub quiz with each of us taking a turn to ask questions about a category. My partner does coffee breaks over Microsoft Teams with her colleagues and that seems to work well too. I have also been enjoying the Joe Wicks Youtube fitness videos that you can do each day in order to keep fit and maintain a sense of community with others around the UK/World.

Working From Home (WFH)

It’s just as important to take regular screen breaks when working from home. Perhaps plan a different walk each day to mix it up. It is also important to keep boundaries around your  work schedule as much as possible. Do not work on your days off and maintain your free time. We all have different home lives and are dealing with difficult things at this time. Working with caring responsibilities will make sticking to normal working hours very challenging and makes your day longer and more tiring. If your work can be flexible around how you operate it’s important to discuss this asap with your employer. If you’re not currently working it can also be difficult to motivate yourself to keep up to date with your professional development. Try and mix up the way you do this. Take advantage of free online sessions, allocate time to read articles, work on a CPD plan and partake in a webinar. Schedule and routine are essential in these difficult times and help motivate you to get back to work or achieve goals that you are looking to do. You may find that you are also required to do different work to normal, or put aside something you have planned for a long time. Try to focus on what you need to do now, the positive impact the new work will have, and the learning opportunities it may offer you.

Mental Health First Aiders

As Mental Health First Aiders we need to remind staff that we’re available to talk and listen via any platform they want to contact us on. Be it email, text, phone call or video chat. We’re trying to be remotely present and ensure that our colleagues know you are there for them. At the same time it is essential that you keep up your own self care and take time to reflect and regenerate before moving on to another call or task. It is helpful to know what resources you can signpost to as well, whether through your own organisation, your local area or national organisations.

Resources for your Wellbeing

SAMH has a very useful information hub “Coronavirus and your mental wellbeing” which signposts to information from organisations including Mind, YoungScot, Age Scotland and others as well as their own resources.