Workplace

Shawmind announces new charity partner Wellity Global

Mental health charity Shawmind have announced a charity partnership with global workplace wellbeing company Wellity Global.

Shawmind is a charity on a mission to improve mental health awareness. They are committed to educating individuals and organisations so they understand mental health and emotional wellbeing, and how to manage them effectively to lead successful, fulfilled lives.

In 2017 Shawmind raised 103,000 signatures during their initial Headucation campaign for a parliamentary debate which led to compulsory mental health education in schools. This hugely successful campaign firmly established Shawmind as a champion of mental health in the UK, despite being a fledgling charity.

Following on from their 2017 Headucation campaign, Shawmind is now focusing their energy on improving children’s mental health by ensuring teachers are equipped to understand mental health and support their pupils more effectively to deal with it.

Wellity Global have agreed to support Shawmind and their Headucation campaign, becoming a key partner in promoting and delivering Headucation.

Wellity Global CEO Simon Scott-Nelson explains: “75% of diagnosable mental health conditions are present before the age of eighteen. We really believe that to help make a real difference across society, early intervention and support is critical. This has to start with educating teachers in how to recognise the signs of concern and then act.”

Shawmind are mobilizing corporate sponsors and individuals to help bring about a transformation in the mental health of the next generation: working with local educational authorities and partner organisations to bring a whole-school approach to mental health, helping schools to develop a culture shift towards sustainable better mental health and wellbeing – fully funded to the schools.

Wellity Global is a company specialising in improving employee mental health and wellbeing which will be utilised to improve the workplace culture of schools as part of the whole-school approach.

Wellity Global COO Sadie Restorick MSc MABP notes: “Every day we work with organisations to help tackle stigma and create working cultures where people can talk openly about their mental health. The earlier we can start in normalising the conversation around wellbeing, the better. This means targeting the younger generation and training those around them, such as teachers and support staff.”

Shawmind CEO Peter Wingrove expresses his appreciation: “We are immensely grateful to Simon, Sadie and the rest of the Wellity team for their support of our charity and their commitment to promoting the Headucation cause. Making sure that the next generation is not failed in terms of their mental health and wellbeing is at the core of the Headucation project and with Wellity’s help we can encourage other organisations to join in our plan to train all teachers in basic mental health awareness.”

Visit shawmind.org/headucation for more information. For further queries about Headucation, mental health support in schools or organisations, please contact peter.wingrove@shawmind.org or simon.scott-nelson@wellityglobal.com

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What is workplace anxiety?

Many of us are likely to feel anxious or stressed at work occasionally, however, if your anxiety is constant or increasingly frequent you’re likely dealing with some degree of workplace anxiety.

It’s the International Week of Happiness at work from 20th to the 24th September 2021 and we want to make sure all workplaces are equipped to be the happiest they can be by tackling workplace anxiety.

What is workplace anxiety?

Workplace anxiety is different to generalised anxiety disorder as it is specifically related to the work environment. While the anxiety doesn’t have to occur in the workplace, workplace anxiety is caused by workplace triggers (e.g. you may feel workplace anxiety the evening before you go to work).

The causes and level of severity are different for each individual but in the most severe instances, workplace anxiety can be debilitating and stop employees from carrying out their duties.

What causes workplace anxiety?

There are many causes of workplace anxiety and the specifics will always vary by each person however some common causes of workplace anxiety include:

  • Workplace bullying or discrimination
  • Minimal or no support from managers
  • Tough working conditions e.g. unsafe environment or long hours
  • Lack of relationships with colleagues
  • Fear of inadequacy or judgement
  • Tight deadlines / overwhelming workload
  • Lack of control over your work

Many people don’t seek help for anxiety soon enough for fear of judgement or because they feel their problem is not severe enough – it’s important to remember that regardless of the cause, your feelings are valid and just as deserving of support as anyone else’s.

What effect does workplace anxiety have?

Anxiety can be debilitating, but what does that mean for the workplace?

When someone is struggling with anxiety they may be less productive e.g. miss deadlines, produce lower quality work, or make mistakes that can be costly to the business.

Anxiety can also manifest itself physically and cause the employee to take more time off which also has financial and productivity implications for businesses – especially small to medium-sized organisations and teams.

Employees struggling with workplace anxiety for a prolonged time can become withdrawn and irritable – negatively impacting company culture and staff morale.

Many who struggle with anxiety, particularly when caused by a lack of confidence or feelings of inadequacy, may make career decisions based on these feelings and miss out on promotions or change their career path altogether.

How to manage workplace anxiety?

1. Look out for signs of anxiety

Knowing the signs of workplace anxiety can help you spot them in yourself and others so that you can make adjustments to your working life before the anxiety becomes more severe.

2. Undergo training on anxiety

Completing some basic training around anxiety can help you learn why it occurs, how to handle it and how to prevent it. Take a look at our self-paced online Understanding Anxiety course.

3. Implement mental health first aiders

Mental health first aiders (MHFA) are one of the best tools an organisation can use to spot, prevent and support those with workplace anxiety. A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for any employees who want to discuss their mental health.

As well as being trained to talk to employees who reach out, mental health first aiders are also provided with the training to spot when someone in the business may be struggling with their mental health but not voicing it. This enables the first aider to make the first move and provide support to those employees who are struggling.

A mental health first aider can also help business leaders make their organisations more mental health-friendly e.g. identifying when working arrangements may need to change.

We offer a 2-day Mental Health First Aid Course that can be delivered online via Zoom, or face to face either in one of our settings, or your own workplace.

All funds from our Mental Health First Aid training course goes directly to our Headucation campaign – so by training a mental health first aider in your business, you’ll also be supporting children’s mental health for years to come!

4. Learn how to manage workplace anxiety

The more you can educate yourself and others to manage anxiety, the better the whole workplace can become. While dedicated individuals such as mental health first aiders can suggest support options, the decision to take action always lies with the person suffering from anxiety.

Some ways to self-manage anxiety are:

  • Talk to colleagues
  • Build relationships at work
  • Treat mental and physical health the same
  • Keep notes
  • Make changes to accommodate your anxiety
  • Set realistic deadlines
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Practice healthy habits
  • Focus on facts

Read more about ways to deal with workplace anxiety

If you’re an employer, you need to ensure you are taking the appropriate action to support your staff with workplace anxiety. If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with Shawmind for advice and ideas! Or, take the first step towards a happier workplace by signing up for one of our mental health training courses – all funds go towards Headucation to improve mental health for the next generation.

If you’re an employee, the sooner you can talk to your line manager or employer about your workplace anxiety the better. If you’re not confident yet, let us know who your employer is and we can reach out to them with our mental health training courses or Wellbeing Weather Check offer.

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9 realistic ways to cope with workplace anxiety

Anxiety is debilitating and doesn’t stop when you enter your workplace (or switch on your laptop) but it can feel like you need to push your mental health struggles aside when you go to work so that you can be productive and earn enough money to live your life.

We know it’s not that simple. You can’t tell yourself to stop being anxious at certain times of the day – it doesn’t work that way. Workplace anxiety can manifest itself in many ways including missing deadlines, lacking enthusiasm and having more emotional responses to problems that arise – all of which can lead to problems for you, your team and your employer.

Here are some of our recommended ways to cope with workplace anxiety.

How to cope with workplace anxiety

Talk to colleagues

When you’re struggling with anxiety at work, it can be incredibly helpful to talk to someone you trust. Talking to your colleagues can help you verbalise exactly what is triggering your anxiety, and get advice from people who understand the environment you’re in. Just remember that your coworkers may be struggling with their own mental health or may not be in a good headspace to help you – always ask them if they’re happy to talk to you first.

If there is a Mental Health First Aider in your workplace you can approach them for advice and support but since these are not yet a legal requirement, not every workplace has them.

Work-related tasks can often trigger your anxiety so make sure to also ask for help when you need it to reduce the anxiety you’ll feel in the first place.

Build relationships at work

As well as being able to talk to colleagues at work, building strong relationships with them enables them to spot when you’re behaving differently or showing signs of anxiety. They can step in to help or make adjustments that will reduce how much you will get triggered during the day without you having to ask.

Treat your mental health like your physical health

Due to the stigma that still exists around mental health, many people try to ignore symptoms of poor mental health and carry on working anyway. But would you go to work if you were throwing up? Hopefully not.

The same goes for your mental health – while keeping busy can be helpful at times, your mental health needs rest so it can heal just like your physical health does.

As with physical health problems, you are legally entitled to time off when struggling with mental health. If you don’t want to disclose the specific issue you’re struggling with, you can send a broad message to your employer to inform them that you’ll be off:

Hi [Employer],
I need to take today off for my mental health. Hopefully, then I can be back at 100% for tomorrow 😊
Many Thanks,
[Your Name]

Learn more about anxiety

Educating yourself about anxiety can help you better understand what causes it, the impact it can have and how to handle it. Take an anxiety course online or read the information on official websites like NHS, Mind and (of course) Shawmind.

Keep notes

There are probably common triggers and specific worries that you have at work, but anxiety can also make it difficult to keep track of these over time. Keep notes each time you feel overly anxious at work so that you can start to identify triggering situations in advance and make changes to help you cope.

Make changes to accommodate your anxiety

Everyone works in different ways so you need to find what works for you. Once you’ve identified what makes your anxiety worse see if there are any adjustments you can make to your working life to reduce your anxiety. E.g. if you find that your anxiety is triggered by email notifications popping up in the middle of other tasks you are completing, consider turning off notifications and setting aside specific times of the day to check them.

Set realistic deadlines

A common trigger for workplace anxiety is deadlines. Everyone has them in some form – either set by ourselves or set for us by someone else. The need to get work done by a certain time and the feeling that we can’t fit it all in is not unusual. There are only so many hours in the day so plan your time and determine what you can realistically get done in that timeframe and move other work around as needed. If someone else has given you more work than you can realistically achieve before the given deadline, speak up and ask them which pieces of work should be given priority.

Practice mindfulness and other techniques

Learning techniques like mindfulness can help you to gradually improve how you manage your anxiety at work. It can be difficult to do this without guidance when you’re starting out so we recommend using an app like Flourishzone that can provide you with personalised recommendations and on-demand guidance for mental health and wellbeing techniques.

Practice good habits

Simple habits like taking breaks, staying active and leaving work alone out of hours are great ways to reduce anxiety but are easy to ignore when you’re busy or struggling with anxiety already. Look for ways to keep up with these habits by setting alarms for breaks, deleting your work email account from your phone or having a friend who keeps you accountable for your actions.

State the facts

When we’re anxious or on the verge of a panic attack, our feelings often spiral and start to overwhelm us. By stating the facts and verbalising exactly what is making you feel uncomfortable you can bring your mind back to reality and find a way to move forward. Stating the facts can also be a good way to rationalise what the consequences of whatever has triggered your anxiety would really be rather than letting your imagination run wild.

What can businesses do to support employees with anxiety?

Employers have an obligation to their employees to look after their mental health – not only for their wellbeing but for the success of the organisation as a whole. Simple things businesses can do to support employees are:

Wellbeing Weather Check – this is a diagnostic tool designed to help organisations understand the levels of wellbeing within their organisations so that they implement changes where needed

Mental Health First Aid Training – individuals are trained to look out for and support those with mental health challenges within the organisation and guide businesses leaders to create an environment that supports good mental health

Mental Health Online Training – educating employees about common mental health conditions can help everyone in the organisation work together to support those who are struggling and make changes to improve mental health

Anxiety of any kind is debilitating. It can destroy productivity and takes the joy out of life.

At Shawmind, we’re here to help you enjoy your life and perform at your best through support groups, mental health training and professional advice. Get in touch for support or to find out more about our workplace mental health support.

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Can mental health training improve employability?

While unemployment rates in the UK have not risen as high as economists predicted at the start of the pandemic, there are still numerous job hunters who find themselves competing for (sometimes very junior) roles with highly qualified candidates who were made redundant during COVID.

And naturally, the more relevant qualifications you have the better your CV will look to potential employers. But aside from vocational or subject-specific qualifications, what qualifications and training can you get to boost your employability?

A big part of the recruitment process involves finding a candidate who not only has all the role-specific skills but who will also be able to build positive relationships with colleagues and support them in their lives to create a good company culture.

We believe mental health training is the perfect way to demonstrate these qualities to your potential employer.

Accredited Mental Health Courses

At Shawmind, we offer accredited Mental Health courses that will give you a recognised qualification and help you to demonstrate your commitment to workplace wellbeing.

One of the most popular courses on offer is our 2-Day Mental Health First Aid course that equips you with the skills you need to act as a Mental Health First Aider in your workplace supporting staff and the overall organisation with a range of mental health issues.

In our recently launches series of online mental health courses we offer 2 that are CPD accredited: Mental Health Aware that helps you develop an understanding of common mental health conditions and how they affect people at work and home; and Understanding Stress that allows you to spot the signs of stress and develop tools to manage it in yourself and others.

Online Mental Health Training

Our Understanding Series includes several non-accredited mental health training courses that can help you develop great skills for the workplace including how to manage anxiety in the workplace and how to prevent burnout in employees.

Platforms like Flourishzone are designed to develop both professional and wellbeing skills that can help you in your career. We have teamed up with them to give 1000 Shawmind followers free access to their app – get yours now on our Flourishzone page.

Since mental health training is not mandatory in most roles, you can give yourself a competitive edge and improve your employability by demonstrating a desire to continue learning and to look after the wellbeing of those around you.

All proceeds from our mental health training courses will go to our Headucation2025 campaign that aims to train 151,000 teachers in the basics of mental health support which in turn will improve mental health in children and young people.

We need all the help we can get to provide this crucial training – please support us by donating, booking one of our mental health training courses or buying a product from our store.

Donate to #Headucation2025

Book Mental Health Training

View Our Store

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Why mental health first aid is important

Why do businesses need mental health first aid?

It is estimated that about 1 in 4 people experience poor mental health during their working life. Everything from stress to clinical depression impacts how employees perform at work with poor mental health costing the UK economy up to £70bn each year.

In 2019/2020 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health, according to the HSE’s Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain report 2020.

Even with a designated mental health representative in a business, it can be hard for employees to feel comfortable discussing their problems – with 89% of people not telling their employees about mental health struggles and half still going to work while feeling suicidal. (Source)

What does a mental health first aider do?

A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for any employees who want to discuss their mental health. The mental health first aider can provide advice and support in a confidential, non-judgemental way before a professional mental health specialist is contacted (always with the person’s permission).

Not everyone wants to talk to a therapist if they’re feeling temporarily overwhelmed at work – a mental health first aider is an accessible low-commitment route for employees to get some guidance and prevent a build-up of emotions and stress that can lead to a larger mental health problem.

While some employees may have a colleague they feel comfortable confiding in, for more severe mental health concerns these untrained colleagues can struggle to provide advice and signpost appropriate support. Mental health first aiders are trained to know which organisations and services will be most suitable for each condition.

As well as being trained to talk to employees who reach out, mental health first aiders are also provided with the training to spot when someone in the business may be struggling with their mental health but not voicing it. This enables the first aider to make the first move and provide support to those employees who are struggling.
A mental health first aider can also help business leaders make their organisations more mental health-friendly e.g. identifying when working arrangements may need to change.

How a mental health first aider helps businesses

Employees who feel better will perform better. But alongside the improvements to business productivity, having a mental health first aider within your company can improve your brand image, improve staff retention, attract better talent and lead to better investment opportunities.

Businesses who actively look after their employee’s mental health could retain 78% of 18-24-year-olds who leave, 42% of their overall workforce and 25% of their critical staff. (Source)

Mental health awareness has significantly increased over the last few years meaning that the way a company handles employee mental health has a huge impact on the way a business is perceived from the outside. 88% of people take into account business’ mental health and wellbeing strategies when job hunting and 73% of investors analyse a company’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance.

Become a Mental Health First Aider

Sign up to our Mental Health First Aider training, accredited by MHFA England where you will be provided with

  • An extensive understanding of mental health and things that can affect someone’s mental wellbeing
  • Techniques and skills that enable you to identify the signs of various of mental health issues
  • Confidence to reassure and support someone who is in distress
  • Skills to help improve your own listening abilities – e.g. non-judgemental listening
  • Knowledge to signpost individuals to support and resources, e.g. helplines, GP, written information
  • The knowledge and understanding of how to keep yourself safe in your role as MHFA
  • A certificate of completion and MHFA Qualified status
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The Story Behind the Story: Understanding how employees really feel

 

We’ve acknowledged the problem but organisations have not yet had their epiphany. Understanding how to systematically measure and manage intangibles like mental health and social capital will have a dramatic effect on organisational performance.

There has been tremendous progress over the past few years as organisations have become increasingly alive to the importance and impact of wellbeing, culture and internal relationships. However, an article published this week in ‘People Management’ highlighted the disconnect that exists between how HR view their employees state of wellbeing, productivity and morale and how employees really feel about the pandemic.

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Sock it to Stigma! 2021


Our annual Sock it to Stigma! (SITS) campaign seeks to raise awareness about the stigma associated with mental health and the damage that stigma can cause. Each year we ask organisations to get all their employees wearing their brightest socks, on show, to create a fun discussion point around which to rally about this serious subject. We send out special activity packs to over 400 schools, for teachers to use to engage with children on a variety of mental health topics in a fun way. This year’s campaign will launch with Children’s Mental Health Week and will run throughout February.

Mental ill health is all too often a topic that is not widely spoken about, especially in a workplace environment, with individuals fearing that they will be let go, not given as much responsibility or have their challenges ignored entirely by their colleagues and superiors. When mental ill health is not dealt with, it can have a hugely negative impact on productivity and work performance.

By taking part in SITS, you are showing that you are not afraid to stand up and be counted when it comes to fighting the stigma surrounding mental health, and that your employees and colleagues can come to you for support and advice, and be taken seriously without judgement or repercussion. SITS has proven to be a fun, interactive way of getting conversations about mental health started.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a huge increase in the numbers of people struggling with their mental health, especially those placed on furlough, those moving to remote working, and those who are suddenly finding themselves trying to juggle work alongside childcare and homeschooling.

Organisations are encouraged to proactively embrace projects which show that they are both understanding and accepting of the mental and emotional wellbeing challenges of their staff, and that they are there to support them as far as possible.

One way to do this is to organise a simple fundraising and sock-wearing competition between staff or departments, where each challenges the other to raise money for the SITS cause (mental health training for schools, nationally) and the company commits to match what the employees raise. Fundraisers usually involve doing something fun that can be shared on the intranet or on social media – but the compulsory ingredient in the mix is that the activity must be done whilst wearing your brightest, weirdest socks!

We will support participating employees, organisations and schools through our social media and PR, and those who run fundraising projects for our benefit as part of their SITS participation will receive complementary Lunch & Learn sessions.

Want to know how to participate in this year’s SITS campaign?

Download our Events info pack here, or if you are a school download a free Activity Pack here. Or simply call or email us…we would love for you to get involved!

This year we are raising funds to provide basic mental health training to teachers. Why is this important? 3 out 4 diagnosed with a serious mental health condition could have been diagnosed before their 18th birthday – making it imperative that teachers understand the basics of mental health and what to be vigilant for in the classroom. To date, teachers do not receive mental health training as part of their initial teacher training course.

Just £5 provides 1 mental health first responder for 1 child in a class. You can help us make sure the next generation has better support for mental health.

 

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We Are In A Mental Health Pandemic Too And We Need To Realise It

The true impact of COVID-19 goes far deeper than the physical effects of the virus. Each day, we see the new horrifying death rate and the many thousands of new cases that have been detected.

But what we don’t see is the number of people who are suffering immensely mentally as a result of the pandemic.

Sure, we have heard the news stories stating that the situation is ‘affecting people’s mental health.’ But like most phrases that are said repeatedly over time, the term ‘mental health issues’ becomes a throwaway statement, background noise. After a while, it stops having meaning when we hear it.

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Teachers’ journey throughout the pandemic

What was going through your head when the first lockdown was announced? I know my first questions were ‘How long will we be in this lockdown for?’ and ‘When will I be able to see my friends again?’ But then I realized there would be some people out there that had a lot worse things to worry about, ‘Will I lose my job?’, ‘Will I be able to pay my rent this month?’, so really, I didn’t have it bad at all. But after hearing about all the children being taken out of the classroom and thrown into online learning, my thinking changed: 

‘What did our teachers have to go through?’ ‘What was is like to be a teacher during the pandemic?’ ‘How did teachers manage their wellbeing during all of this?’

 

When the first lockdown was announced

I personally heard people say negative things about teachers when the first lockdown was announced, but I think those people may have been too quick to judge. We forget sometimes that teachers are human beings just like you and me. Teachers have fears, stresses, anxiety; and they have other family members to take care of too, just like everyone else. They also don’t work the standard 9-5 that people assume they do. They start early in the morning, finish sometimes late into the evening, and even then, they take their worries and stresses about their pupils home with them. For many, teaching is a calling and not just a job.

I spoke with head teacher Kelly MacKay who, in January, was dealing with flooding in her local area, on top of her duties as head teacher of a primary school. Then, shortly after the flooding chaos, she was hit with the lockdown announcement. As head teacher, the first thing Kelly had to do was prepare the staff and parents for the pandemic. Remote learning had to be put in place, parents had to be notified of the changes that would be taking place, at the same time Kelly still had to conduct her normal head teacher duties. 60% of primary school parents across the UK later reported that they were struggling with the remote learning, so getting this system working as smoothly as possible added to the stress and pressure that Kelly, like so many other head teachers, was placed under. Not only that, but also wellbeing training had to be put in place so that the teachers could still do their job effectively and stay well mentally and emotionally. Kelly’s school managed to provide their students with remote learning within one week of the announcement. Amazing!

Switching to remote learning

After speaking with author, part-time lecturer and former head teacher David Gumbrell, I have realized that one positive thing that came from the pandemic for teachers is that the relationships between themselves and other teachers became so much stronger. There was the realization that the connectedness between staff members was what made remote learning work. They had to be resilient and work together as a team to be able to do their jobs successfully.

I think I can speak for most people when I say we all have some sort of routine we each follow day in day out. Having a routine gives us feelings of safety and security. When teachers had to go from face-to-face learning to remote learning, a whole new routine had to be created for themselves and for their students. David came up with a strategy to break up his lectures while still providing work for his students. This was so important because the students were getting the education they needed as well as having breaks in between to support their wellbeing and carry on interactively with their class. Throughout the pandemic it is so important to create strategies and routines. One strategy David kindly shared with me was simple: self-compassion. He informed other teachers that they had to take care of themselves first to be able to help and teach their students successfully. Self-compassion is composed of three parts: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. These three parts mean that you are understanding and kind to yourself, you realize you aren’t the only one that feels pain and then overcoming your pain and suffering through mindfulness. Self-compassion is all about loving yourself through the pain and suffering you are feeling.

Preparation strategy

Many people have some sort of mental health related issue at some point in their lives, and teachers are no exception. So imagine how the pandemic has affected the number of those teachers who might have already been suffering with anxiety and stress for example, before the pandemic. The government provided funding for teachers to help their student’s mental health but, how are teachers supposed to provide their students with help when they themselves are struggling? We need to help our teachers with their wellbeing so that they can help their students – our next generation! It has been proven that children mirror the behaviours of their role models and those they spend a vast majority of their time with; we need our teachers to be happy and mentally & emotionally healthy so that children can mirror their positivity.

Adam Parkes, who specializes in teacher wellbeing kindly shared with me one of his strategies for helping teachers during the pandemic. He told the teachers that he works with to ‘visualize the worst-case scenario’. This may sound counter-intuitive, but everything else that then happens instead will seem like a bonus! And ‘Prepare to test positive for COVID-19.’ By following this advice, teachers could then plan and prepare to work remotely and would already have everything in place to carry on, should COVID strike.

 

Support our teachers

Steve Waters, a former teacher who is now working with schools to create strategies for teacher wellbeing, says that in a recent poll of head teachers in the UK, a staggering 47% said that they were planning to leave their jobs after the pandemic. We were already in need of teachers and the pandemic has now compounded the problem. It has really caused teachers to view their jobs in a completely different light. According to Steve, the way that schools and their results are being inspected during the pandemic really needs to be re-considered as it is driving our teachers to leave their jobs which will then have a massive negative impact on the education of our next generation.

As Adam Parkes said, ‘Don’t let our teachers feel like they are pawns in a game.’ Don’t forget that teachers are just human beings like you and me, they are going through the exact same stresses caused by the pandemic, that you and I may share, on top of giving your children and everyone else’s children the education they need and deserve.

Resilience, self-compassion, connectedness, kindness, flexibility, active listening and expecting the unexpected. These are all things teachers have had to learn and apply to their everyday life whilst still coping with the already-present stresses of the teaching. We need to support our teachers now more than ever!

Shawmind aims to train 151,000 teachers in the basics of mental health support over the next 5 years – you can help us achieve this goal!

 

 

Article written for Shawmind by Angelica Shaw

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The importance of looking after your wellbeing when you work from home

When the UK went into a national lockdown in March of this year, it’s probably fair to say none of us expected the impact would last as long as it has. Now in our second lockdown, we’ve returned to a familiar routine of staying at home and only leaving for essential reasons. As part of this, many of us have returned to our desks at home – if we even returned to the office in the first place.

Although there are numerous reasons we should be taking additional care of our mental wellbeing during this uncertain time, this article will focus on people working from home and the unique set of challenges that brings.

Of course, working from home has been positive. We’ve had more time to spend with our friends and family where possible, or time to prioritise health and exercise. Many of us have also been able to save the money we’d typically be spending on the daily commute.

Indeed, these are key reasons why 44% of workers plan to ask for permanent flexible working arrangements after coronavirus restrictions are fully lifted. The research, from Direct Line, also confirms that the pandemic is making employers think differently about their response to flexible working requests and their office space needs. That could be great news for any employees wanting to make the switch to home working.

But as you might have experienced during either of the lockdowns, there are some drawbacks too. It can be hard to find a balance between work and your home life, for example. It may be tempting to check your emails outside usual hours, or extend the working day. It’s easy to see how work can creep into the time you’re supposed to be spending relaxing or unwinding from the day. This is when it can affect your wellbeing.

And it is something which happened during the lockdown, with ONS data from April 2020 showing that 30.3% of employees at home worked more hours than usual.

With more people than ever potentially working from home, here are some of the ways you can look after your wellbeing:

Create a clear divide

If possible, have a designated space for working. Ideally this would be a room where you can shut the door – to keep out distractions while you’re working and to shut work away at the end of the day. But not everyone has the space to give up an entire room. Instead, you might have dedicated space in a quieter room of the house – somewhere you can tidy your laptop away at the end of the day.

The important thing is a clear divide between when you start your working day and when you finish it. Of course, some days you might do additional hours and this might have been something you did in the office too. But when it becomes a habit, it can affect your wellbeing. You need to be able to switch off in the evenings and have time to yourself.

Use a schedule 

If you need to be strict with yourself, create a schedule for the day. And be detailed – include times for showering and getting ready, as well as when you have a lunch break (away from your desk). Not only does this allow you to schedule in key tasks and meetings, but it ensures you don’t forget about essential day-to-day things you’d do without thinking if you were commuting to the office.

Bad habits are common for home workers, so you’re not alone if you’ve been staying in your pyjamas all day or skipping lunch. But pay attention to these habits and start to do something about them. A schedule is a great way of making you do things daily, turning those bad habits into good ones.

Take regular breaks 

How often do you take breaks when you work from home? In the office, natural opportunities for a small break from your screen occur quite often. Making hot drinks, someone coming over to your desk, bumping into someone else in the corridor or having a catch up after a meeting. Having your colleagues around might also encourage you to have a proper lunch break.

But at home – especially if you’re working alone – you have to create these opportunities to have a break yourself. It’s important for your productivity and to avoid burnout. You must allow yourself to have a break and you shouldn’t feel guilty for it.

Continue exercising and socialising where possible 

Although it’s tricky to predict what will and won’t be allowed at the moment, it is important to keep up exercise and socialising while you’re working from home. Exercise is as important for the mind as it is the body. Typical working from home positions are desk jobs, meaning you’re sedentary for most of the day. Getting up and moving – whether it’s a walk, run, online workout or yoga – is crucial. Some people even ‘walk’ to work by doing a lap around the block before they sit down at their desk.

As for socialising, people have been very creative in how they keep in touch with friends. If you can’t meet up in person yet, do plan some time to catch up with friends on the phone or online. Depending on who you live with, working from home can be quite isolating. You need to create opportunities to talk and socialise with other people.

How do you look after your wellbeing when working from home? Share your suggestions with us.

 

 

Article written for Shawmind by Mark Gray
Mark Gray is a freelance graphic artist and content writer from Berkshire, UK. He enjoys travelling, attending tech conferences, surfing, and gaming. He is also a newbie in the small business world but has big dreams in store for him.

 

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