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Turn on the TV, radio or chat to a friend, and what’s the first thing that comes up? Probably COVID-19. Given the unrelenting media coverage and the uncertainty that has gripped the world due to this illness, it’s unsurprising that it can start to take a toll on our mental wellbeing. WHO has already acknowledged that the pandemic is taking a toll on global mental health.

Life has changed more than we thought possible. A few weeks ago, we could visit our friends and family for support. Or decompress by going to a football game, or a trip to a cafe. Now, thanks to social distancing and potential lockdown, we find ourselves alone and isolated.

Sad got the blues by @emmadarvick.

If you’re a manager, you may also be worried about your team. How are they coping? How has your responsibility to them changed? You want them to have good mental health in this difficult time, but you also need to model that same behavior. So it’s vital that you look after yourself as well. After all, you’re important too!

Good teamship supports good mental health. It’s true that great teams put each other first, but it’s not selfish to take care of your needs as well. When you model the behavior you want to see, others will pick up on this, which is a great bonus!

Meditation Buddha GIF by @Patswerk.

Mental health and management

If you’re a manager, you’ll face unique stresses that can put a strain on your mental health. One report from CMI found that British Managers:

  • Are facing specific mental health issues
  • Tend to work unpaid overtime
  • Suffer from the “always on” digital culture

Now that so many of us work from home, the effects of the “always on” digital culture could get worse. If you already struggle to switch off after a normal day in the office, how will you manage when your work is already at home? And, as you cope with the extra stress, how can you spot the warning signs that your mental health may be struggling?

Don’t just shake it off

It’s tempting to brush off early warning signs about our mental health. Especially when most of us are worried about what’s going to happen next. But do you know what to look for, when it’s more than anxiety or stress? It’s important to know yourself and how your body reacts to stressful situations.

It helps to know the early signs of mental health conditions, so that you can tell when you’re stressed, or if there’s something more going on. Some early symptoms include:

😴 Changes in sleep and appetite.

😮 Emotional outbursts.

😰 Feeling anxious.

🤔 Difficulty making decisions.

If you think you might be tempted to write off symptoms like anxiety or mood changes as stress, or just a bad day, why not try a free screening tool? Mental Health America offers a free tool that lets you see if you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition anonymously.

👍 Try screening tools to assess your symptoms

👍 Get to know your own emotions and reactions to stress

If you do think you’re dealing with mental health issues, don’t be afraid to reach out. Either to a mental health professional or a friend. Instead of hoping the problem goes away, talking about it helps you to lighten the load on yourself.

Managing your mental wellbeing

There are some simple steps you can take to start putting your mental health first.

✅ Get to know your own reactions. Write down how your body reacts when you’re stressed. The next time you feel anxious, look out for the warning signs like not sleeping.

✅ Ask for help. If you feel stressed or anxious, call a friend or a colleague. You don’t have to carry your worries alone.

✅ Model the behavior you want to see in others. Be open with your mental health, talk about your worries with your friends and colleagues.

✅ Remember that this will pass. Life will get back to normal at some point. We’ll be able to socialize and even buy loo paper!

❌ Don’t be tempted to write off early warning symptoms as just a bad day.

🗝️ Your key takeaway

Your own mental health matters just as much as the rest of your team. Model the behavior you want to see by staying alert to the symptoms of mental health issues and asking for help when you need it.

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