This morning, I did the same thing I have done every morning since the early spring. I picked up my smartphone and began doom scrolling.
Even if you haven’t heard of the term, you’ve almost certainly experienced the sensation. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic broke upon the world, our daily news feeds have been dominated by rising figures, bleak predictions and fragmented opinions.
Staying positive in the time of coronavirus, with all its many and complex repercussions, is a huge challenge even to the most emotionally resilient. So, it should be no surprise that the public conversation around mental health has taken a huge leap forward in the UK, with Covid-19 placing such tremendous stress upon an entire nation.
Lead from the top
If, as a business leader, your attention has primarily been on making sure your company can survive Covid-19, it’s time to widen your focus. The old idea that employees’ mental health is no business of their employer’s is long gone; employers must lead the way to better mental health support in the workplace if they want to protect their most important asset.
The term ‘building a trauma-informed workplace’ is a powerful one that I have only recently come across and it resonated with me on a number of levels. The pandemic has been the source of great trauma for many of us, particularly those working in frontline occupations.
Actions, not words
Becoming a trauma-informed workplace has to be achieved through actions though, not words, which is why it’s essential that business leaders step up to the challenge.
What can you do to provide mental health support at work?
Consider the different needs of your workforce. Is anyone experiencing anxiety about returning to the workplace? How about those working from home, do they feel lonely or well-supported?
Should you train a mental health first aider? Is a ‘one size fits all’ mental health policy effective, or do you need to tailor your approach for differences in age, neurodiversity and individual circumstances?
One unexpectedly positive side-effect of the pandemic could be vastly improved mental health awareness in the workplace, as long as businesses make it a priority and lead from the top.