Posted on: 09 May 2022

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

This year Mental Health Awareness week is being observed between 9th to 15th May 2022, with the theme being loneliness. Recent years have been turbulent for a lot of UK businesses due to COVID-19. The lockdowns and government guidelines introduced the concept of hybrid working in our economies. Yet, there was little guidance for maintaining a work life balance while working from home. So, we at Premierline chose to write about maintaining a work life balance while simultaneously providing tips on tackling loneliness.  

This week also provides an opportunity for businesses to recognise the importance of mental health issues and extend aid to their employees by raising awareness about it. Furthermore, Deloitte reported that poor mental health costs UK employers almost £56 billion a year.  

Additionally, The Mental Health Awareness Week charity has provided a variety of resources on their website for UK businesses to help their employees. One of them being a section on their website with detailed steps and questions for employers to start conversations related to mental health with their employees.  

Achieving work life balance 

A good work life balance consists of good time management which enables us to invest equal time towards our personal and professional lives. As we know, hybrid working has its perks, but it can become hard to separate our work life from personal life while working from home.  

So, to achieve a good balance, follow these 3 simple rules:  

  • Try to maintain a similar work routine at home as you would do in an office setting. While working in the office, we do not have our home comforts, so we follow standard discipline. But while working at home, we do have the flexibility to make our own rules. This flexibility should be used carefully, as it can become easier to commit to our personal chores while trying to complete our work tasks. Ultimately, this habit of overcommitment can lead to a burnout and loss of motivation to do any work, blurring the lines of a good work life balance. 

  • When you have a routine sorted, move to the next step of letting your friends, family, or roommates know about your work schedule. People in your personal life want to spend as much time with you as possible but setting boundaries for meetings/business calls while working from home is essential for a good balance. Furthermore, this will help in maintaining prominent levels of productivity with little disturbance from your personal environment. 

  • After a good routine and social boundaries have been established while hybrid working, focus on including some leisure activities while working from home. Even though we are at home, the social environment of an office is missing. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness because we all need a break while working. So, taking short breaks with activities such as walks and listening to music can help preserve focus and maintain high productivity.  

Hybrid working can contribute towards loneliness 

Even after maintaining a decent work life balance, it is common for employees to sometimes feel lonely and isolated. One of the main reasons employees can feel lonely is due to fewer in-person interactions. So, employers can try these 4 ideas to help their employees tackle loneliness while hybrid working. 

1. Virtual doctor visits  

Technology has progressed to a satisfactory level that employers can ensure their employees can consult a GP digitally for mental health issues. This will ensure that employees do not have to take extra time to commute or wait in long waiting queues to be seen by a GP. Additionally, employers can choose to add a GP consultation appointment to employee contracts, as a work benefit.

2. Making in-office visits more social  

During hybrid working employees can visit the office anywhere between a couple of days a week to once a month. Businesses can try to make these visits more social by encouraging more sociable conversations through team lunches or office events. 

3. A more inclusive team meeting for hybrid workers  

Joining a team meeting with work colleagues who are in the office can make a hybrid worker feel disconnected as they might not feel they are inputting. So, to make it more inclusive for hybrid employees, businesses could ask all participants to join a meeting through an online channel even if some of the participants are in the office. 

4. A better education to create awareness  

Businesses should have protocols in place to ensure they can spot an employee experiencing a mental health issue. Organising quarterly seminars and workshops for employees is an effective way to educate and create awareness about the different signs and symptoms of people experiencing loneliness or depression.  

Through these workshops, employers could train certain employees to become Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA). MHFA’s can be trained to spot early signs of mental ill-health and encourage employees to seek further help.  

Further, employers can also inform hybrid workers about online services such as Clic. It is a platform where people can connect to an online community which supports people with mental health problems. 

Mind partnership  

Allianz UK, Premierline's parent company, voted in 2019 to join with Mind as the corporate charity, with a goal of raising £1 million. Mind is a mental health organisation that offers help to people experiencing mental health problems as well as anyone who is concerned about their mental health.  

Employers can utilise tips and resources provided by Mind on their website to help their employees manage loneliness.  

Rachel Carrington, corporate account manager at Mind commented, 

“This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness. Everyone can feel lonely at some point in their lives. We can be surrounded by people – either at home or through work – and still feel isolated. This can, in turn, have an effect on our mental health. Equally, mental health problems like anxiety or depression can make us withdraw from people around us, making it difficult to reach out or meet people face to face. We’re proud to work with Allianz and Premierline to raise awareness and support people in seeking help. This Mental Health Awareness Week, reach out. Simply letting someone know you’re there can make all the difference.” 

Sources:

Poor mental health costs UK employers up to £56 billion a year | Deloitte UK

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 - Mental Health UK (mentalhealth-uk.org)

Is hybrid work good for work-life balance? (timelyapp.com)

Zywave | Premierline

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