Jo Loughran, Director of Time to Change shares some advice on talking about mental health and the impact of working from home during Covid-19.
At Time to Change, we’re continuing to work to improve the way everyone thinks and acts towards those of us with mental health problems. In uncertain times like these our work doesn’t stop – in fact, it steps up a gear as talking about mental health and our ability to do that without the fear of negative judgement from others, becomes more important than ever.
People tell us that they worry that if they broach the topic of mental health problems, it’ll create an uncomfortable or awkward situation. Add to that the impact of not being able to have those conversations face to face, to read those all-important visual cues, and we create conditions where people may choose not to talk at the very time when they need to reach out for support the most. We know that talking about mental health really can change lives – even if that conversation is a virtual one.
Tips for Talking
More than ever, we’re encouraging everyone to be there for their friends, family and colleagues during this difficult time. We’ve been sharing three simple tips to help people support each other:
- Check in – you might not be able to meet face-to-face, but picking up the phone, having a video call or messaging someone lets them know you are there to talk and ready to listen.
- Listen and reflect – if someone opens up to you, remember that you don’t need to fix things or offer advice. Just listening, and showing you take them seriously, can help someone to manage.
- Ask questions – ask how someone is managing, and ask again if you’re worried they aren’t sharing the full picture. Asking again, with interest, can help someone to open up.
Wellbeing While Home Working
Social distancing isn’t easy. For many of us it has felt isolating. I’ve particularly missed the hustle and bustle of the office and those daily interactions we take for granted. It’s crucial that we all keep talking to each other and find new ways to connect, whether that’s opting for a Zoom call rather than a chain of emails or organising a virtual ‘pub’ night with your team.
For me, working from home full time is unfamiliar territory and the boundary between home and work feels a little blurry. Here are the things I’ve been doing to try and stay well while adjusting to this new way of life:
- Limiting myself to checking the news once a day, and only for half an hour
- Getting outside for a run or walk every day
- Continuing my usual commute reading, but from the comfort of my sofa
Changing Attitudes from Home
As we settle into this new reality, the team at Time to Change have started to think about how we can keep people engaged in challenging mental health stigma while in lockdown.
We’ve been sharing ways that our supporters and Champions, if they feel able to and have the time, can keep changing attitudes from home – from having conversations about mental health to challenging stigma in the media.