How Employers Can Support Mental Health Post Pandemic

Written by Rachel Blythe
Last updated Thursday September 8 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on our world in many ways. Even though we are (mostly) on the other side of things now, the aftereffects of the pandemic are evident in many areas of life. One of those areas is mental health.

Mental health in many people has been affected by the pandemic. Many people are facing new issues and many have experienced an increase or worsening in pre-existing symptoms and conditions. Either way, lots of people are struggling with their mental health right now and this is affecting their lives. 

When something affects us in life, it affects us in work. Therefore, it is critical that employers know how to appropriately handle these issues when presented with them. If not dealt with appropriately, our employee’s mental health can deteriorate and we may see ourselves losing valuable members of staff. If we handle things in the right way, we can strengthen our team and keep our colleagues safe for longer. 

At Careers with Disabilities, we strive to ensure everyone’s safety and happiness at work. So, with this blog, we hope to give employers some more support and guidance on how they might deal with mental health issues that arise in a post-pandemic world.

Let’s get started by looking at the context we are in right now. 

The Post Pandemic Context 

Statistics show that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased anxiety and depression by 25% across the world. The director of WHO claims that this is only the “tip of the iceberg” and that it should be a major wake-up call for countries across the world. 

It shouldn’t be underestimated just how stressful the Covid-19 pandemic was for millions of people across the world. There were multiple avenues of stress co-existing at any given time and this continued for an extended period of time. People had to worry about their health, the health of others around them, financial issues, housing issues, and the daily uncertainty of what would happen next. Many people additionally had to deal with bereavement and complicated grief as they couldn’t see their loved ones before they passed or in a normal funeral situation.

Dealing with this stress over time, naturally, has increased the number of people showing symptoms of depression and anxiety. To a certain extent, this seems quite a natural response to such an experience. However, the main issue now seems to be that this stress, depression and anxiety are lasting long after the beginning of the pandemic and continuing to run riot through our lives. 

These continuing issues are what seem to be presenting problems in our lives. In every area of our lives, it seems, and notably in this context, our jobs and work.

How Employers Can Support Employee Mental Health 

It is important that employers know how to support employees with their mental health. For some, this may feel like a daunting challenge. However, the reality might be more simple than you would imagine. 

There are some basic pillars of best practice to fully support your employees with their mental health. They are as follows: 

Listen and practice empathy

The most important thing to someone when they are struggling is being listened to. Even though we are often so busy in our work lives, we need to practice active listening and empathy with our employees. If we don’t have time for this ourselves, then we should be appointing HR members of staff or other employees who specifically deal with mental health disclosures and conversations. However, all members of staff should still deal with these issues appropriately, which leads us to our next point.

Undergo mental health training

Mental health awareness training is a great way to improve your employees’ well-being. If every member of staff has a better knowledge of mental health and how to deal with any disclosures or situations that arise, you can guarantee a much healthier workplace for everyone. Organising some mental health training on at least a twice-a-year basis is a great way to get started with your new mental health initiative. 

Appoint internal team members to mental health positions

It is key that your employees know who they should talk to if they are struggling with mental health. Aside from HR or line managers, it is a good idea to have people appointed in the office to mental health positions. Some refer to the roles as “mental health champions” “buddies” or “listeners”. Essentially it is a voluntary role which receives appropriate training and protocol. This can help lessen the load of managers and HR workers but allows your employees to get the support that they need when they need it.

Be open about mental health within the workplace

How you discuss and treat mental health in the workplace makes a big difference. The stigma around mental health has been a big problem for decades and we should always be working to reduce and eradicate this stigma when we can. Things like posters, murals, open training, talks and presentations can make a big difference when visible and consistent. 

Openly signpost to external services

No one expects you to be able to deal with everything yourself. Even though you want to support your employees, that doesn’t mean that you need to become a mental health professional. One of the best ways to handle mental health issues is to appropriately signpost your employees. Signposting to the right external services that can help them. Check out our recommendations for this list in the following section. 

External Avenues of Support 

The following list is one that you can provide to your employees to help them. This list will guide them toward the right kind of mental health support following the pandemic:

 

  • GPs: Your GP is typically the first point of call for anything to do with your health. This is the same for mental health. If your employee is struggling with their mental health, always make sure that their GP is aware of this situation. This helps to keep them safe and gives them access to third-party resources to which the GP can refer. 

 

  • A&E: In case of emergency or crisis, always refer to 999 and A&E services. Emergency services absolutely deal with mental health and you should never hesitate to call them.

 

  • Samaritans: Always provide someone who is struggling with an option for immediate support. Crisis lines, such as Samaritans, are typically the best option for this. They can get immediate, free support from anywhere in the country and this can save their life. Always have the number to hand.

 

  • Counselling Directory: For more long-term issues, you can refer your employee to the counselling directory UK to find a counsellor in their area. Providing time off for this counselling, especially in the beginning, is a great reasonable adjustment to offer your employee. It ensures they can attend and get the support they need and allows them the chance to improve sustainably. 

 

  • Local counselling charities (Anxious Minds, Cruse, Maytree, Mind, PAPYRUS, Lifeline): If your employee cannot afford counselling, there are free charities across the U.K. that might be able to help. This will change by area so it is worth looking up options near your office before you offer this option. We have listed some choices above but make sure to do your own research too. 

Committing to Becoming a Better Employer 

One of the very best ways to support your employees with mental health after the pandemic is to commit to becoming a Disability-Friendly, accessible and inclusive employer. Deciding to start your journey as a Disability Confident employer is life-changing for you, your company and everyone that you work with. 

Having the tools to support employees of all conditions, abilities and life experiences is a wonderful thing. It can help you recruit and employ hundreds and thousands of skilled, valuable workers without any exemptions or exclusions. You can help to close the Disability employment gap and offer opportunities to those who deserve them. 

We can help you with this at Careers with Disabilities. We have everything you need to get started as an inclusive employer. Our unique services can help boost you into the inclusive way of life and connect with a vast pool of diverse candidates across the U.K. through our accessible and diverse job board. 

Check our services and get in touch with any questions you might have. You will never regret committing to doing the right thing!

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Last Updated: Thursday September 8 2022

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