Abstract of air vent.

Beyond the fruit and yoga: surviving or thriving?

16 June 2020. Published by Mental Health Workstream,

Last week the RPC Mental Health Work Stream (our internal network) hosted an interactive session with over 60 colleagues and clients.

Following a talk about mental wellbeing from Dr Annemarie O'Connor, participants virtually met in smaller groups to discuss how they (and their organisations) are coping in the current circumstances; whether they are surviving or thriving, and whether there were any top tips or examples of good practice that could be shared.

Although everybody's individual circumstances are different there were a number of common themes identified as having a negative impact on individuals' mental health. People reported feeling more tied to their "desk" and computer and an inability to switch off from work. Across the board people felt that their energy levels had dropped and, at times, motivation (for both professional and personal tasks) had waned and boredom set in.

However, there were lots of examples of positive steps individuals can take to help safeguard their mental health now and going forward as we adapt to new ways of working in the post-Covid-19 era. Concerns about motivation and boredom were met with suggestions that individuals set goals (however small) in order to provide direction and give a sense of achievement. 

Without the commute to separate our work and home life, we need to be creative about how we mark the end of the working day. Depending on your personal circumstances this may mean tidying away your work at the end of each day, covering your work space with material (if it is in the room you spend your evenings in) and being very clear with colleagues about the hours you are contactable. As most of us now spend more of our free time indoors, likely looking at a different type of screen, it is important to take steps to counteract your screen time. Get up and walk away from your desk, have a tea break or lunch in a different spot (as you would in the office) and aim to get up and move at least once an hour. Suggesting a phone call rather than video call can also give you a break and allow you to change location.

Finally, many participants emphasised the importance of asking for help. Whether this is asking your (probably long-suffering) IT department how to properly use Zoom or speaking to a mental health first aider about what assistance is available if you are struggling, recognising that you need help, and asking for it, can be the first step to improved mental health.

If you would like to receive a summary of all the ideas that arose out of our conversations or would like to take part in the next discussion, please contact Will Sefton (Will.Sefton@rpc.co.uk)  or Rachel Pears (Rachel.Pears@rpc.co.uk).