Covid-19 has wrought havoc to our lives around the world. As we move into our third year of co-existence with this novel virus, many businesses, organisations, and individuals are asking – “What’s next?” and “What do we need for recovery?”
The answer is simple.
We have a massive opportunity to change for the better, especially when it comes to mental wellbeing.
- It’s going to take time – but hopefully less time than you think.
- It’s going to take effort – but there is a massive desire to make this happen.
- It’s going to require a new vision – but there’s a mass of new ideas and science backed research to help.
- It’s going to be an ongoing work in progress – because change, disruption and stress will always be our companions in this messy process we call life.
The four key areas include:
- Self-care. Acknowledging our human frailities means taking good care of our bodies and minds because physical and mental wellbeing work together.
- Using our emotions wisely. Every emotion provides us with valuable data around how current circumstances are impacting our thoughts and behaviours.
- Building connection. We are social creatures, hardwired to form social bonds and relationships that build trust, confidence, and happiness
- The way we think. Unleashing possibility, meaning, wisdom, innovation and creativity, our unique human traits
Why does this matter? Haven’t we got other more important things to deal with, like overcoming the global pandemic, dealing with climate change, reducing plastic waste, preventing domestic abuse, and keeping our jobs?
These are all important issues, and the truth is, they will be a lot easier to manage and we will find solutions more quickly by paying attention to our mental wellbeing FIRST.
The epidemic of loneliness, psychological distress and severe chronic stress resulting from revolving lockdowns, physical distancing, need for mask-wearing, vaccination requirements, the ever-shifting goalposts, the confusing and sometimes nonsensical change in regulations, and the unrelenting fear of the virus itself is doing us great harm.
I have heard first-hand about the number of elderly, living in aged-care, double-vaxxed but not allowed to be with their immediate family or to share a hug, who now feel life is no longer worth living.
So many parents have shared with me their very real concerns for the mental health of their children who are struggling to make sense of events and are fearful for their future.
We will be dealing with the mental health aftermath of Covid for a long time to come, which is why getting on board to look at prevention, mitigating risk and providing early and adequate help for those in need, must start now.
Who will make this happen?
I’m glad you asked, because this is going to be a joint effort, beginning with you.
It will also include everyone else, as well as your workplace, your community, and our governance.
What is the first thing I need to do?
As an individual – doing a mental wellbeing check-in is a great place to start, repeating this on a regular basis i.e., once a fortnight or month or more often as needed. There are many great apps to do a check including iYarn or the Mental Health Quotient from Sapiens Labs.
As a leader – again start with yourself. Do you have the level of self-awareness to recognise honestly how well you are coping yourself as well as your employees?
The second step is to ascertain where you are struggling. Do existing work processes and procedures need to be reviewed? Are you working too many hours, battling mental exhaustion, and feeling overwhelmed? Are you lacking the resources and support you need to deliver your best? Do you have a friend, colleague, manager, supervisor, boss you feel comfortable to talk to, to share your reality and ask for help?
Formulate a framework that encompasses the four areas of mental wellbeing and create a timetable for delivery. When working with your psychological needs it quickly becomes apparent which needs need to be assisted first.
Realistically, this may be a three-year process. It takes time to introduce and embed change and to measure its impact.
Evaluate and regularly review progress to see what is working well, and what isn’t, so that goals and frameworks can be tweaked and altered as necessary.
Lastly, to remember this is not a one-size-fits-all approach and not everything put in place will have the desired outcome. This is where showing self-compassion and kindness plays its part. We can’t expect everything to work out perfectly every time.
- What do you see as the most urgent reform needed for mental health and wellbeing in the workplace?
- What have you already put into place to bring about positive change?
- How will workplace mental wellbeing feature in your plans for recovery?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is now available for purchase
If psychological safety, burnout prevention and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.