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Mental Health Awareness - Adjusting to COVID-19 Circumstances

18/05/20

The Coronavirus may affect our physical health but everything surrounding this pandemic may also be affecting our mental health, adding to everyday challenges.  For some time now we have been experiencing the lockdown, restrictions on movement and whilst some may be working, an increased time at home can mean more time to overthink. You might be feeling anxious about catching the virus, knowing people who have, perhaps even the sadness of losing someone close to you who had the virus.

Many of us will have also experienced challenging domestic situations such as isolation, juggling childcare or caring for a vulnerable relative, as well as financial worries.

Group HR Manager Chris Neale said “there seems to be a great sense of community and compassion during these challenging times but now more than ever we need to be looking after our mental health and to be considerate of those close to us.  Whilst people may look ok it doesn’t necessarily mean everything is ok.

At Orion we have undertaken a lot of work over the last year to provide staff and managers with mental health awareness training. The main aim of the training is to providing signposting specialist help to anyone who may need it or knows of anyone who would benefit from the help, while increasing awareness of mental health and breaking the stigma associated with mental health issues.  Training provided has been for staff benefit but also so they can recognise and potentially help others – it’s good to talk!

In the last couple of months like most businesses we have had to change the way we are operating, working from home, teams/skype calls and juggling and completing tasks that we would not normally be involved in.  A key aspect adapting has been through communication and the efficient/effective use of the technology available. Orion's HR Director has been sending regular updates to keep our teams informed and ensuring regular contact with our colleagues (particularly our colleagues on furlough). 

During this lockdown period we are pleased to have continued working with Scottish Mental Health professionals and along with our internal mental health awareness posts we have now shared a 3 part course building on awareness, adapting to the current circumstances and providing some activities and exercises to help keep our staff mentally safe.

We are now looking at how we reorganise and come out of lockdown and despite the challenges we have faced and face in the future, we do so in the knowledge that our working arrangement will not be the same as before the pandemic ”

Helplines and websites to help you adjust to the current climate: 0_Mental_Health_Helplines_and_Advice.pdf

The following are only an example of some of the top tips we have shared with our staff

Top tips

  • For some, the next few months will be filled with anxiety, confusion, stress and/or loneliness.  Please note that some people struggle do deal with uncertainty and the circumstances that we find ourselves in may exacerbate existing conditions.  Please look out for this and assist those that are not coping as well as you.
  • While we all want to keep up to date with developments, too much social media use can harm mental health.  Try regular breaks from the news and social media outlets or restrict your access to set times.
  • Redefine your perspective of time.  Days may seem longer at home so consider setting a timetable or structure to your day. Establishing a process and adapting your thinking from temporary day to day responses to longer-term arrangements will help.
  • You are likely to have more time at home, so spread your activities out and take your time with them.  Maintain your discipline as having set routines assists filling your day (whether this is work or home related duties) and will enable time to pass quicker.
  • Focus on known facts and advice from experts and community representatives.  There is a lot of misinformation and factually incorrect observations in many social media platforms particularly online discussion forums – trust your source.
  • For anyone experiencing anxiety about COVID-19, I strongly recommend the information and support provided by mental health charity Mind.  Follow this link for further guidance on coronavirus and your wellbeing:  Coronavirus and Wellbeing
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