Living with any condition in the workplace, be it physical or mental, is hard enough as it is. Throw in a pandemic, which not only puts a lot of us at risk but also stops us from seeing people or doing things that in everyday life gets us through the day to day, makes it so much harder. Now more than ever it’s crucial that employers look out for those individuals and ensure they have every kind of support they need. Yet, it’s just as vital that employees have the confidence and a safe space to communicate this to their employer.
With COVID-19 already forcing so many changes to our working lives, it may also be that some people who never considered themselves to suffer before, are starting to feel their mental health become affected. For many people with physical conditions, they too might start to see changes in how they feel and cope with their day to day lives. This is why it’s so important that employers are ready and visibly showing they are there for their people.
Often it can be that employers choose not to do anything because they get stuck in knowing what to do, they are scared of saying the wrong thing and giving offence, or they wrongly think the support that person needs has to be a lot bigger than it really needs to be. Truthfully, it’s the little things that count but employers won’t know that unless they are told. Which is why on the other hand, it’s just as important that employees know they can tell their employer about what they have, how they feel and what they think they need, and that something will be done. At the end of the day no one’s a mind reader!
So if any of the above is you - be brave! Speak to your employer or someone in your business you can trust and feel comfortable opening up to. Don’t armour up and pretend like everything’s OK because right now this is our reality and the only thing that comes first in this world is your health. Remember, without your health you cannot work.
I have been fortunate that Oakleaf Partnership have been incredibly supportive of my health over the past four years. With my condition being physical, it has affected me in a number of ways and I have been made to feel comfortable talking to not only my colleagues when I feel I need extra help, but my Manager and even members of our Board. Like so many others, to me it’s personal and not something that needs to be shouted from the rooftops, but I know that when a conversation needs to be had I will have the support I need. At times it’s even them coming to me, telling me I need to slow down and look after myself!
COVID-19 has thrown me and many others a few more curve-balls. Being at risk is scary and the unknown of when you can go back to normal and ultimately be safe can cause extra stress and anxiety. Having an employer who supports you is even more crucial right now and so is having the confidence to speak to them.
There are so many incredible charities and services offering virtual support for employees to turn to right now for mental health, so as an employer you need to have the knowledge and be able to recommend them to your employees. It’s also good to offer personal support from someone who may be going through a similar situation so setting up internal support groups or having someone offering their own support as a mentor can be incredibly effective. Often people underestimate the power of talking and having someone to just listen to you.
With that said, I am happy to offer my own mentorship to any individuals I can support so please feel free to reach out directly or pass my details on to someone you think needs it. If I can help just one person or business, then stepping out my comfort zone to post this article would have been totally worth it.