Mental Health Awareness week

By Sam Turner on Sunday, 8 May 2022

Human beings are a social species that rely on cooperation and interaction to survive and thrive. The pandemic has changed the way we’ve had to work and many of us have missed the face-to-face interactions, brainstorms and problem solving that is part of agency life. Teamspirit, like any agency, is fast paced and at times stressful (with a huge dollop of fun) and now we are facing into the challenges of working in a hybrid world. There is a new challenge trying to navigate this way of working and ensure that people feel included whether remote or in the office.

Multi-tasking and video calling has become the norm… but at what cost? For many, this has been a real positive. But that’s not the case for everyone. Some people feel invaded, stressed, and even pressured to be ‘always on’, ‘always present' and 'available’. When we’d been locked at home this seemed to be a prevailing thought with the clients and colleagues I talked to. Now that we have returned to the office we need to recalibrate and understand that this relentless way of working needs some rules, some boundaries, and a renewed focus on what it means to be polite and thoughtful in a hybrid world.

We need to let people (and help them) ring fence time to get away from the screen and the endless calls and meetings. We need to embrace the ‘watercooler’ chat and the breaks to connect with colleagues. Now, more than ever, we really should be thinking about outputs – no matter how long your workday is.

As a Mental Health First Aider at Teamspirit I am working to remove the stigma that exists in many professional environments. I encourage all levels to talk about what matters – and this is not always work. Our Senior Team are open about how they are coping and often speak out about what they are going through.

Why is this important?

The Centre for Mental Health calculated that the equivalent of 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children and young people will require mental health support as a direct impact of the pandemic during the next three to five years. To put this into context about half a million people experienced a mental health difficulty after the financial crash of 2008. But post Covid-19, higher inflation, and the resulting cost-of-living crisis make the effects on mental health even greater still, and they will last much, much longer.

What can be done?

I just don’t know that I have all the answers but what being a Mental Health First Aider has taught me is that we need some compassion and kindness, some slack and more, much more, communication as a starting point. Mental illness at work was not talked about enough before, and now I worry that post the pandemic it could become a more of a taboo subject. What I preach at work and in life? Be kind to yourself, if you are strong then reach out to others, listen and watch out for signs of worry. There was a pandemic community spirit that sprang up and we need to keep that alive, only then can we truly be good global (and local) citizens!