Acas guidance on looking after mental health

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Acas has published new guidance to help staff manage their mental health at work during the Covid-19 outbreak.

A survey commissioned by Acas found that the change in working conditions for many people during the pandemic has caused an increase in a range of mental health difficulties, such as feelings of stress, anxiety and isolation. 70 % of the workers surveyed missed social interactions with others at work.

The new challenges faced by many over the last 2 months, such as additional childcare responsibilities, feeling isolated and job security for furloughed workers, have been coupled with concerns about the virus itself and the safety of returning to work.

Acas's new advice is clear that in any of these situations, we all need to look after our mental wellbeing and offers some practical steps to take:

  • Stay in contact with people – talk to colleagues or friends about how you’re feeling
  • Have a routine - so you plan in advance what you’ll be doing each day
  • Keep active and exercise
  • Make time for activities you enjoy

Read Acas' full advice for employees, managers and employers here

People working from home may feel isolated. Acas' top suggestions on how to help include:

  • Talking to your manager about hours and when to take breaks
  • Discussing what kind of contact you’d like, possibly more video or phone calls
  • Mix up work so that it involves calls with other staff
  • Plan coffee breaks into your routine with other staff to keep in touch

Managers should reach out to staff, having conversations about workload and wellbeing.

As the UK looks for ways to move out of lockdown and back into work, many are worried about the safety of returning to the work environment. Employers have a 'duty of care' toward staff, and must do all they reasonably can to support employees' health, safety and wellbeing, including:

  • Making sure the working environment is safe
  • Protecting staff from discrimination
  • Carrying out risk assessments

Government information on how to prepare a workplace for the safe return of workers can be found here

Click here for more information on where to get help for mental health concerns

Find out more about the guidance from Acas, including the full survey result