We’ve seen that during times of crisis, and in the current pandemic, mental health issues spike. How can we keep mental wellness during these times?
Taking a step back is important as we often react to crises in different ways. To keep your mental wellness, you need to check in and understand what that means for you. There was a brilliant infographic that showed responses to the crisis through the four Fs. The fear, flight, fight, freeze. By knowing your own reaction would then inform what strategies you can put in place.
Dealing with uncertainty is one of the biggest topics right now, it’s a huge thing that can often lead to paralysis because you just don’t know where to start. My suggestion is to accept what is in the locus of control. You can choose to eat well, you can choose to take a walk, you can choose to maintain your individual health and your loved ones, and your partners, and your nucleus of controls.
Another strategy is to do a digital detox to help with Zoom and screen fatigue. It isn’t always possible, because that’s our way of working and communicating, but I’ve found that intermittent fasting from technology has been really crucial during COVID.
For me, a huge takeaway from dealing with a crisis like this, and helping others, was compassion. Compassion and kindness; not just compassion towards others but being kind to yourself. You have to constantly reiterate that you’re not working from home, you’re working at home during a global pandemic. This helped me to contextualize why, at times, I felt I wasn’t able to focus.
It is about taking a step back and forgiving yourself for being not as productive and as on top as you’d like and taking more time off to switch off. Giving that kindness to myself was a massive enabler of wellness during the crisis.
How can you check if you, or someone else, has good mental health? And how can you discuss this, including within the workplace?
There is an array of different psychology assessments, psychiatry tools, and assessments, for different subsections around mental health. There isn’t one globally recognized, certified method. MindCheck takes into account different sections of one’s life and the way mental health evolves over time. By taking the test, you get a combined mental health index, where you can see your mental health. And the idea is that you are able to go back and redo the test and see how you’re faring, so you can keep yourself in check. Still there isn’t a quick-fire way of analyzing one’s mental health. Typically, we’re relying on self-reported assessments, self-assessments, and taking into account a holistic view.
In terms of mental health in the workplace, there are a few areas that become a bit tricky: how do you balance the blur between personal and professional lives? For instance, we’re working quite a lot with diversity and inclusion within companies and I’m working with minority stress and underrepresented groups, which can often lead back to childhood trauma. Then you’ve got a bit of conflict between leaders of companies, HR and management saying, okay, to what extent do we deal with it in the workplace?
We see that peer support groups can help. These could be more formalized and be an area where anxiety can be lessened if it seems that you’re in a community going through those struggles together.
Ultimately, however, I want everyone to know that it starts with you, your own self-assessment, understanding your own levels of mental health, understanding your triggers better, understanding what works for you, and then sharing that with others if it makes sense.