What a roller-coaster six months the whole world has experienced. From the stress of moving to working from home, to being on furlough or losing your job, to the pressures of home schooling, isolation and lack of contact or being available online 24/7. Some has been work-related stress, anxiety about the global pandemic or economic recession, bereavement or grief over losing our old ‘normality’. People have had to face it all! Our collective mental health has suffered during this period. Let’s explore what impact the pandemic has taken on mental health and how coaching and mentoring can provide support to help people feel emotionally and mentally well as they go forward in this difficult period.
The Mental Health impact of the pandemic
The Mental Health Foundation (in the UK) has found that individuals have gone through a series of mental health issues as the pandemic has progressed. Initially in March 2020, people felt panicked, afraid and unprepared for what was to come. In April, a quarter of adults felt loneliness during lockdown. By May, more than a third of full-time employees in work were worried about losing their jobs and 20% of unemployed people had experienced suicidal thoughts. In July, with lockdown easing, 20% of UK adults still felt hopeless. The Office for National Statistics has found that the rate of depression in adults doubled during June 2020 compared to the start of the lockdown. By August, individual’s mental health responses had not varied much from June.
A CIPD survey in August, showed that 27% of employees had increased their alcohol intake during lockdown, particularly those with high workloads or caring responsibilities. With so many people working from home, one of the biggest issues has been isolation. Enforced isolation tends to be less easy to tolerate. Although many people have preferred working from home, they like the choice to be their own. A study by the University of Surrey and Brunel University found that a prolonged lack of contact can lead to cognitive decline.
Now with the strain of further local lockdowns and winter just around the corner, mental health needs to be the number one priority for employers!
Support employee’s well-being through coaching and mentoring by
- Creating a sense of employee engagement, trust and psychological safety within the organisation. When people are feeling anxious about their employment or the future, it can make an enormous difference to have a coach or mentor to discuss concerns.
- Providing a reality check to prevent employee burnout. Plus ensuring people don’t feel they need to be more productive whilst working remotely.
- Creating and reviewing options when employees need to discuss uncertain employment opportunities and the economic future. Our brains struggle to cope with uncertainty, we all experience ‘negativity bias’. Having support to unpack the situation with someone who is not your line manager, can be a life-line.
- Supporting people continuing to work from home. This period has been an interesting experiment in home working for many. A survey by the Institute of Directors shows that 74% of employers plan in maintaining the increase in home working. More than half plan on reducing their long-term use of workplaces. However, it doesn’t suit everyone and brings additional stressors as well, such as managing remote teams, lack of networking and isolation.
- Encouraging people who need to return to work, particularly if they have been shielding. Anxieties about a physical return to work are commonplace.
Use Coaching and Mentoring strategically to combat Mental Health issues
We are not recommending coaching and mentoring to be used in the place of counselling and other professional mental health interventions. If an individual is diagnosed with anxiety, depression or mental illness, they need help from the correct professional practitioner. However, you can use coaching and mentoring strategically, to ensure that people don’t reach this stage of poor mental health. Here are some ideas to think about to create a culture that supports mental and emotional flourishing and wellness:
- Brief your existing mentors and coaches to look out for signs of people struggling with their mental health. Ensure they know how to signpost anyone who is not feeling well and provide them with resilience building techniques to help with encouraging good mental health.
- Set up a well-being mentoring or buddy programme. Make this peer mentoring so employees can support each other with useful ideas for thriving. This is one of the most cost-effective interventions you could make!
- Introduce virtual networks for employees who are still furloughed to help them reconnect with the workplace.
- A mentoring programme or network, for working parents who have found it particularly stressful to juggle children and work over the last few months.
- Use well-being coaches or introduce an Ikigai programme to your internal coaches or mentors, so they can use the techniques with your employees.
- Introduce work place mindfulness or yoga.
- Explore our new Thriving through Chaos techniques for your internal coaches and mentors or for personal self-reflection.
Support the health of your employees
There are so many ways that you can use developmental dialogues to support an individual to feel they have purpose, help them to find solutions when they are juggling their lives, give them a reality check and to help them put their fears, concerns and anxieties in perspective. Plus, none of these ideas are expensive to implement. Think about it, you owe it to your workforce.
Get in touch to co-create innovate solutions for your employees!
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