Mental Wellbeing & Stress Reduction

Gloucestershire County Council and partners recognise the impact that the Covid-19 outbreak will have on mental health and emotional wellbeing both in the short and long-term and have created this online guide to Looking After Your Wellbeing.

To help employers support the mental wellbeing of their workforce we are hosting the Gloucestershire Innovation Resources Hub.  This hub has been developed by our local authority partners, and contains guidance documents, templates, and tools to for businesses that will aid mental wellbeing and resilience for employees in some of the most challenging job roles.

Please Scroll Down to the bottom of the page to access the ‘Innovation Resources Hub’

 

Mental Wellbeing 

We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. How are you feeling? How well can you cope with day-to-day life? Mental wellbeing is not a straight path - it can change from moment to moment, day to day, and where we work can be a contributing factor to this.   

Good mental wellbeing means you feel relatively confident in yourself with positive self-esteem, this will reflect in your relationships with others. If you are not dealing with your mental wellbeing well, you might feel stressed, anxious and/or depressed.

Stress

Stress is our body’s response to pressures from a situation or life event. What contributes to stress is different for each of us and can vary depending on social and economic circumstances. Common features of things that can make us feel stressed include unexpected events or change or feeling that we lack control over a situation.

Stress can be beneficial in short bursts, helping us stay alert and perform at our best. It is normal for people to feel stress from work demands. However, continued or extreme stress at work can be harmful to mental health. Stress can contribute to the development of anxiety and/or depression and may cause an existing condition to get worse. Stress can increase our risk of injury, fatigue and burnout.

  • Working long hours / overtime / shift work. Taking regular five-minute breaks can help towards productivity
  • Time pressure, including fast-paced work or working to unrealistic targets
  • Not feeling like you have enough control over how you do your work
  • Not being involved in wider business decisions
  • Not receiving enough support from your line management
  • Job insecurity
  • High mental task demands, work that requires high-level decision-making
  • Not feeling like your role has clarity  
  • Receiving poor communication
  • Conflict with colleagues or managers
  • Poorly managed change, lack of organisational justice
  • Not receiving enough recognition and/or reward
  • Bullying
  • Discrimination – whether based on gender, ethnicity, race or sexuality
  • Work of an emotionally and/or disturbing nature.
  • Chest pain or a pounding heart
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, diarrhoea or constipation
  • Getting colds more often
  • Muscle tension, pains and headaches
  • Episodes of fast, shallow breathing and excessive sweating
  • Loss or change of appetite
  • Sleeping problems.
  • Feeling overwhelmed or frustrated
  • Feeling guilty or unhappy
  • Being irritable
  • Excessive worrying
  • Losing confidence and being indecisive
  • Thinking negatively
  • Having racing thoughts
  • Memory problems.

 

Most jobs involve some degree of stress, and this can affect people at all levels within an organisation from frontline employees to senior members of staff. As an employer, there are ways you can help manage and prevent stress by improving conditions and removing the stigma around mental health at work.

A survey by mental health charity Mind revealed that 1 in 10 employees rated their current mental health as poor or very poor. 40% took time off work because of it and over half felt their employer does not support mental health.

Workplace stress can affect an individual’s:

  • Performance
  • Memory
  • Self-Esteem
  • Concentration
  • Ability to learn.

This can reduce productivity, leading to staff under-performing.

In the UK, stress accounts for 75% of sickness absence costing UK businesses an estimated 105 million working days. Poor mental health costs UK employers between £22bn and £42bn each year.

The cost of mental health-related presenteeism (people coming to work when ill) is higher than the cost of absence, estimated at between £17 billion and £26 billion in the UK.

Stress/anxiety/worry is the highest issue for young people in Gloucestershire.

Between 2014 and 2025, Gloucestershire’s adult population will increase by 8.2%, the population aged over 75 years will rapidly increase and there will be fewer people aged between 20 and 24 and between 40 and 54 years.

This could lead to an increase in social isolation, loneliness due to personal bereavement, and a potential increase in mental health issues.

 

What you can do to support mental wellbeing and stress?

There are many techniques that can be used in the workplace to help us manage stress more effectively.

Examples include:

  • Creating an environment where it is okay to talk about mental wellbeing
  • Encouraging regular five-minute breaks from work
  • Taking walks during lunch breaks
  • Supporting effective time management and planning

In order to provide more holistic support for employee mental wellbeing employers can:

For more detailed guidance resources and training download our Mental Wellbeing Toolkit

Best-You is an online platform and app that you and your employees can use as your own personal platform to communicate, create goals and track your progress.

Create a private Group and invite staff to discuss healthy lifestyles within the workplace – activity, eating or anything else that fits your organisation.

Employees can create goals for healthy eating, smoking, alcohol, weight and activity. They can track their progress against their goal each day and Best-You will give motivational feedback.  

Best-You is full of helpful guidance with a specialised area on mood and stress. Employees can complete self-assessments and discuss this with their employer, if appropriate.  

The Healthy Workplaces Gloucestershire accreditation scheme will improve your organisation's culture around mental wellbeing by giving you the opportunity to engage with your employees and offer them support.

Below are some suggestions that may help reduce stress in your workplace:

  • Display resources from trustworthy sources (e.g. Time to Change) around the workplace
  • Have a mental health champion
  • Promote physical activity and healthy eating to improve mental health and wellbeing
  • Provide guidance on mindfulness and activities such as yoga and meditation
  • Line managers being open with employees about whom they can talk to about any issues they might have
  • Have a policy that addresses stress in the workplace
  • Have workflow meetings to allow employees to raise any workload issues they may be having.

 

 

 

Local Training & Resources

A list of local mental health support services can be found here on the Gloucestershire County Council Website. From crisis support to self help and useful links it is a good resource for all employers and managers to be aware of.

Gloucestershire County Council have also developed online training courses for professionals and volunteers - click the link above to access their training page and find out more.

Training includes:

  • Mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak
  • Remote Psychological First Aid – particularly relevant to NHS staff first responders and those on the frontline
  • A conversation guide (or “script”) for supporting people through emotional distress
  • Suicide prevention training through the Zero Suicide Alliance 

Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire offers a Mental Health First Aid half-day course that is funded training for charities and public sector organisations. To find out more, please contact HLS on 0800 1223788

Glos Talks is a local campaign to raise awareness of mental health and reduce stigma

For more detailed guidance resources and training download our Mental Wellbeing Toolkit

 

National Resources & Training

Mental Health at Work is a great place to start for employers who want to do more to support employee mental health and wellbeing. They have pulled together resources from key national sources such as Mind, Mental Health First Aid England and CIPD, Samaritans and more and offer step by step guides and toolkits as well as an Employer Mental Health Commitment Framework. 

The charity Mind UK have a wealth of support for employers on their Mental Health at Work pages

The CIPD also offer a wealth of support for employers on their website view their fact sheet guides

Mental Health First Aid Training is now available online with MHFA England. There are also a large number of private companies offering MHFA training. Find out more about on the MHFA website

Psychological First Aid Training from Public Health England is also available Via Future Learn. This course has been specifically designed to support frontline workers during Covid-19.

For more detailed guidance resources and training download our Mental Wellbeing Toolkit

 

COVID -19 Mental Wellbeing - Local Innovation Resource Hub

Gloucestershire County Council and partners recognise the impact that the Covid-19 outbreak will have on mental health and emotional wellbeing both in the short and longer-term. Uncertainty, concerns over health and economic security, bereavement, the pace of social change and the impact of self-isolation and social distancing will all be contributory factors.

Our local workforce may experience increasing risk factors for poor mental wellbeing.  This may be due to unpredictable/unplanned changes that have taken place within the workplace, loss of employment, uncertainty of income, changing demands/roles/teams, increase in pressure and sensitivity of roles performed (i.e. where in health care settings more individuals become vulnerable and require enhanced care), working in ‘frontline’ environments and increasing personal/familial exposure to the Covid-19 virus, as well as other factors.

To respond to this identified need, a ‘Workforce Wellbeing’ task group has been established who have collated / designed the following resources and documents to help employers protect the mental wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of their workforce.

We would like to share with you a letter to all employers from our Director of Public Health in Gloucestershire which lists the full range of funded support available for mental health support:

Letter from the Director of Public Health to all Gloucestershire Businesses

RESOURCE HUB 

1. Covid-19 Risk Assessments

Getting your risk assessments right for those who are vulnerable at this time is essential. If you have employees who are vulnerable or more susceptible to Covid-19 there is full guidance to support businesses from the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) online.

They cover what to include in you Covid -19 risk assessment and lists of vulnerable groups that all employers should consider. Support and resources can be accessed here

Research also shows that BAME groups have been disproportionately affected by the impact of Covid -19. These documents may help employers to better understand the impact on this group and what can be done to support.

  • Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups. Public Health England, June 2020

2. Guidance for Leaders and Managers 

There is a wealth of guidance available online designed to help employers understand the mental wellbeing needs of their employees and particularly of their frontline workers who may be more exposed or at risk during this pandemic. We have pulled together a wide range of comprehensive guidance from leading experts and put it into the guide here

In addition, a selection of further guidance documents are below designed to help employers understand the mental wellbeing needs and offer support to front line workers during this pandemic.

You can find further guidance and information from the BPS here including addressing anxiety in the return to work and advice to support staff who have been shielding.

  • Advice for sustaining staff wellbeing in critical care during and beyond Covid-19

3. Advice for supporting a remote workforce

 

5. Your Local Guide to Mental Health Support Services

Gloucestershire County Council have put together a comprehensive ‘Looking After Your Wellbeing’ guide on their website.

They offer advice on how to follow the ‘5 ways to Wellbeing’ model from ‘Mind’ as well as a full list of local and national mental health support services that can be accessed here

The information is tiered for ease of use from ‘Crisis Support’ to ‘Self-care tools to look after your emotional wellbeing.’ It is worth all managers having access to and being familiar with this information to signpost staff who may benefit from further support.

6. Every Mind Matters

Every Mind Matters is now tailored to support people through social distancing and home isolation, including working from home. Find guidance, advice and tips on how to maintain your mental wellbeing if you need to stay at home or are worried and anxious about the outbreak

7. Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Support

Developing a Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Policy – Advice for Employers

Hestia have recently launched a new helpline for employers and business to support them in responding effectively to a disclosure of domestic abuse from an employee or looking for other advice and guidance around supporting employees affected by domestic abuse.

  • Advice Line 07770480437 or email Adviceline.EB@hestia.org between 10am-3pm Monday to Friday for support.
  • Further details of the advice line and toolkit can be found here. 
  • For guidance for front line services in Gloucestershire click here