HM Insights

Mental Health Awareness Week – how employers and employees can cope with Coronavirus concerns

Mental Health Awareness Week comes to an end on Sunday, with this year's theme is "kindness".

With the trials and tribulations that the Coronavirus outbreak has brought, employers and employees are encouraged to think carefully about how they take steps to promote mental wellbeing.

A survey released by ACAS on 19 May 2020 reported that nearly 40% of all employees currently working from home felt stressed, anxious or experienced mental health difficulties due to their working situation.

ACAS has therefore provided updated advice for employers and employees on mental health at work.

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What can you do as an employer?

Employers should be aware that working from home can be an isolating and challenging time for employees who need to adjust to this new way of working.

It may be helpful for employers to schedule regular calls with their staff so as to keep in touch with their employees and ensure that those employees who are working from home do not feel forgotten about. In addition employers should be aware that they have a "duty of care". This means that they should do all that they reasonably can to support the health, safety and wellbeing of employees.

Employees should feel that their employer is approachable, available and feel that if they are having problems that they can come forward and talk to someone about this.

For employers, this could be as simply as asking their staff:

  • How they are feeling;
  • How they feel their work is going and if they need support;
  • Whether they have any concerns.

It would also be a good idea for employers to keep in touch, at least in some level, with furloughed staff so that they do not feel isolated.

What can employees do?

Employees should feel empowered to come forward and raise any concerns that they have and not be scared of raising such matters with their employer. Equally, if they have concerns about a fellow colleague they may wish to raise this.

If an employee is in a management position then they should listen carefully to what colleagues are saying, identify if there is any particular cause and think about ways to help.

Ultimately, an employee may feel that they cannot discuss matters with their employer but if that is the case they should be aware that there are a number of agencies available who can assist.

For example, help may be found through the likes of:

  • Anxiety UK – 0344 477 5774
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35) – 0800 585858
  • Samaritans – 116 123

At this time, more than ever it is important to communicate regularly and openly with staff because the pandemic is changing the way we work and staff need to adapt quickly. Staff may feel worried, so employers should reassure employees and acknowledge their concerns. Employers should make it clear how they plan to support them and this will help build trust and reduce anxiety.

Get in touch

If you've any queries about this, or any other employment related matter that could affect your business, our team of specialist employment lawyers can assist. Please contact us on 0131 247 2534 to discuss further.

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