Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

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How are you sitting as you read this? Are you hunched forward? Is your neck sore, your jaw clenched? Are your eyes squinting at the screen?

Take a deep breath.

We’ve been through a lot this year, and the strain of working through an international pandemic has been challenging in so many ways. Month after month of living like this can really start to take its toll.

Asian woman student or businesswoman is working late at night.

It’s likely that feelings of stress, anxiety and isolation are creeping into your day-to-day life as we struggle with information overload, looming work deadlines and family commitments. All of these things contribute to our mental health, and at a time where the future is still so uncertain, it can be a lot to manage.

Mental wellbeing doesn’t have one set meaning. We might use it to talk about how we feel, how well we’re coping with daily life or what commitments feel possible, or impossible, at that moment.

Health and wellbeing colleagues from across the University have pulled together a list of resources available for staff. These are organised by theme, to help you find exactly what kind of support you need.

People in casual clothes are holding hands.

Raising Awareness

Mental Health Awareness Course

Along with the Health and Safety team, HR are launching a mental health awareness online course to raise awareness of mental health issues and illnesses inside and outside of work. The course will provide you with guidance to support you and others around you and signpost you to the University services available.

Understanding Stress

Stress is the reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them which are not matched by their ability to cope.

Work can bring pressure, and when overwhelmed that can lead to stress. Left unchecked this can leave you physically and mentally unwell.

Occupational Health have lots of great information and advice about identifying, managing and reducing stress, including the stress risk assessment.

Guidance for Managers

Managers have a duty of care to their staff and must take reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their team.

When it comes to mental health it can be hard to know what to do when supporting someone with a mental health problem. By having frequent, honest and two-way conversations you can ask how they are feeling, what challenges they are dealing with and what support they need at work. Look for possible signs and symptoms of poor mental health, raise any concerns you see with the individual and encourage them to seek support. The mental health and wellbeing webpages have advice on how to approach this.

Reasonable Adjustment Support

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team has published short guides for managers supporting staff who are experiencing mental ill health, with a particular focus on reasonable adjustments. These guides sit alongside existing publications on support for neurodiversity and sensory impairments, with further guidance in development.

Promoting good mental health and wellbeing

Encouraging healthy working environments and practices can help prevent stress and create positive settings where individuals can thrive.

It’s important to remember that good mental wellbeing doesn’t mean you’re always happy or unaffected by your experiences though.

Evidence suggests there are five steps to help you look after your mental wellbeing. This advice encourages you to stay active, take notice, keep learning, connect and give.

Building Resilience

By understanding more about resilience you can help develop practices and techniques to cope during periods of change and uncertainty and bounce back from setbacks. The Resilience Toolkit curated by HR and the Wellbeing Playlist in the Online Development Toolkit are a good starting point.

Support available

There are many great services and teams available that promote good mental health and wellbeing as well as offering support with mental health issues and illnesses. An overview of the support can be found here.

Back in November 2019 HR, in conjunction with our Health and Safety colleagues, created a Health and Wellbeing Hub to bring together all the great information and resources that the University offers.

To find out more you can visit the health and wellbeing webpages.

Photography: bunditinay/GettyImages; scyther5/GettyImages