It’s clear why a focus on mental well-being is so important for families, schools, workplaces and communities alike, when you consider that 1 in 4 of us in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, with 1 in 6 people in England experiencing a common mental health problem such as anxiety and depression in any given week.
While the likely long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, the health system and unemployment are widely publicised and openly discussed in the media, the long-term effects on the mental health and well-being of the population are largely unknown.
Research from the Mental Health Foundation shows that protecting our mental health is central to us coping with and recovering from the pandemic – with the psychological and social impacts likely to outlast the physical symptoms of the virus.
That’s why this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), running from 18 to 24 May 2020, comes at a crucial time. In past years at Accordance, our Time to Change Champions planned a range of activities and initiatives over the week, from mindfulness sessions to talks on how diet and exercise can impact our well-being. This year, the Time to Change Champions will send daily employee newsletters filled with tips on the books, podcasts, TV shows and activities they find help support their well-being.
Although this annual MHAW is fantastic for highlighting the importance of and starting conversations around mental health and well-being, it is of course something that is significant all year round. In recognition of this, Accordance has a wide range of initiatives and benefits in place to support employees’ mental and physical well-being. Employees and their families can access round-the-clock professional support from Smart Health and LifeWorks, which offer employees confidential advice and support.
Whilst remote working, not only have our teams had daily video catch-ups, but we’ve had regular company meetings and weekly emails from CEO Lucy Franklin, which aid in steering us through the fog of the Government’s regular updates, and how they relate to us and the business. Communication from our Senior Management Team is refreshingly transparent, reassuring and valued by everyone. Line managers are also working with parents in their teams to support them in balancing their work and childcare responsibilities, with many working flexibly to fit around their home life.
A strengthened sense of community and support is flourishing at Accordance since beginning remote working, with a number of uplifting, employee-led initiatives. An internal network has been established, arranging regular activities in which everyone can get involved; pub quizzes, cook-alongs, language classes, mindfulness tips, workout sessions, and even disco yoga! These encourage connectivity and unity, both inside and outside of work hours, despite our physical distance. As a small but meaningful gesture whilst our more traditional celebrations are on hold, we’ve also been sending cards to those whose birthdays fall during the lockdown.
We might not have seen our friends and colleagues in person for over two months, but Accordance is ensuring now, more than ever, that the sense of togetherness and community across the business is at its strongest.