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The past twelve months have created extra pressures on everyone’s mental health personally and professionally. More than 50% of adults have said their mental health worsened during lockdown.

Parents, in particular, have experienced a difficult time as they were forced to navigate new work demands on top of supporting their children with homeschooling. Themes of loneliness, isolation, and fear have been mentioned repeatedly in our conversations on social media.

It’s important to note that 1 in 3 people in the UK experienced a mental health problem before the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a rise in mental illness, including depression and anxiety, with an increase in suicide rates.

The risks to our mental health will continue long after COVID-19 becomes a distant memory.

While the pandemic has impacted people across the globe, women have faced specific challenges.

Women in the EU reported spending 13 hours more than men every week on unpaid care and housework before the pandemic. The increase or changes in unpaid work throughout lockdown has, in the main, rested on women’s shoulders. The impact on women’s well-being as they juggle an intensified physical and mental workload can’t be ignored.

The pandemic has worsened the existing gender inequalities. Now is the time for companies to promote a positive work/life balance to support their female team members’ well-being and mental health. Read more about Creating an Inclusive Culture.

The impact of a global pandemic

The charity MIND surveyed to establish the impact the pandemic had on mental health. They reported that a quarter of adults who tried to access support could not do so due to technical barriers when accessing video call technology.

1 in 3 adults didn’t access support during lockdown because they didn’t think they were entitled to it. This is something organisations can offer as a standard for their team, ensuring everyone feels supported when returning to work or office spaces.

The importance of offering mental health support?

Guaranteeing a strategy and process to sustain mental health support in the long term should be a priority.

Before the pandemic, people who already experienced mental illness reported a significant increase in the severity of their symptoms. As they struggle to cope, their work and home life also suffer as a result.

These challenges cause overwhelming emotions and increase the levels of stress and anxiety.

The impact of mental illness can’t be overlooked by organisations who want to offer the proper support for their staff. Understanding the symptoms is a great starting point for recognising when your team need help.

  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or migraines, or stomach issues like IBS
  • Disturbed sleep has a detrimental effect on concentration levels and focus
  • Overwhelming feelings of worry, sadness, frustration, or fear
  • Potential to reach for alcohol or drugs to dull the pain

A report by The Health Foundation found that two-thirds (68%) of adults in the UK were worried about the future with a direct impact on their well-being. 56% felt stressed and anxious.

The severity of this situation isn’t always evident to an employer. If a staff member has a broken wrist, the issue is obvious. Symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety can be hidden and inadvertently dismissed as a bad day.

What support can your organisation provide?

Far too many organisations fall short in supporting the mental health and well-being of new parents. Fortunately, there are ways to offer the right kind of support. Here are a few examples:

  1. Let’s talk. It’s essential to keep the conversation going once you’ve opened up the opportunity to discuss mental health. It can’t be a one-time discussion that ticks a box without following up with a nurturing working environment. Think about all the opportunities you can provide in-house to give new parents the time and space to talk. Be sure to speak openly and honestly, releasing any stigmas around mental illness. Encourage a place of trust and safety for your staff.
  2. Stay focused. It’s easy to let the cogs continue to turn during a busy day at the office. However, noticing if a staff member seems irritable, sad, overwhelmed, or out of sorts allows you to open up a discussion and remind them there are multiple resources available for them. These resources may include: taking an extra day off or working from home, and a go-to list of therapists/counsellors available.
  3. Improve your environment. Does your office surroundings support positive mental health? Do your staff have ample access to water, light, outdoor space, and other uplifting features? You may not be able to do anything about the busy road and loud traffic noise outside the office windows, but the interior needs to be a tranquil space. Reducing clutter, opening windows, and using happy colours in your décor can all have a positive impact.

What next?

Becoming a new parent brings great joy. However, it can also be an emotional and challenging time. Join us for our next webinar on 23rd June 2021 – Supporting New Parents in the Workplace. This webinar looks at the statistics, facts and trends, and offers ways for you to support the well-being of new parents in the workplace.

As Covid continues to compromise individual well-being, it’s more important than ever that our workplace culture supports good mental health.

The host of this webinar is Nishi Mehta, the Director and Founder of CM Talent. This business evolved from a whole-hearted necessity to help employers attract, retain, and develop gender-diverse teams and to support parents in the workplace. CM Talent works with HR Teams and Inclusion specialists to achieve greater gender-balanced teams while supporting parents and closing the gender pay gap.

Connect with Nishi on LinkedIn or email her at nishi@cmtalent.co.uk

Book your spot on the next webinar

This FREE webinar looks at how organisations can best support the well-being of new parents in the workplace. Sign up HERE

CM Talent helps employers to attract, retain and develop gender-balanced teams. Its sister business, Career Mums – return to work experts – is a social enterprise supporting parents back to the workplace following a career break as part of a mission to inspire and develop #morewomenleaders.  

Using a combination of experiences gained from organisational development, psychology, leadership development coaching and supporting parents in the workplace, the CM Talent team are ideally positioned to support your return to work plan.