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Resilience and home working

15th June 2020

ICS Mental Health Deputy Director, Paul Hopley

I have been struck over the past weeks with how my team have continued to work so hard on such a wide range of things - from launching a suicide prevention campaign to developing a new interactive map for mental health and wellbeing services.

I think most people will know that working in mental health can be challenging, but also one of the most rewarding areas of work. It has made me realise that due to the working arrangements we are currently in (the team are mainly all home based now and, in some cases, isolated ourselves), how difficult it is to also look after our own health and wellbeing. We have lost the human factor of face to face banter and support that an office environment brings, so not to have it does eventually take its toll – but each member of the team has adapted so well. I have personally seen the difference at home when my partner is on shifts at the hospital: it is clear that work is better with the face to face interaction is there vs home working for large periods of time and it will probably be here to stay in some shape or form, so we will need to get the balance right.

All of the team I work with, every single one of us, has had challenges outside of work, just like everyone else in our communities - ranging from our children, parents, other halves, pets, our own isolation and wider family and friends. They have all managed to continue to work with the same passion and energy for improving mental health, if not more so since the COVID-19 pandemic started. All of them have done this whilst also being someone’s ‘person’ outside of work. For various reasons, these last few weeks have appeared harder for all of us at some point, and each of us have had days when we let self-doubt lower our confidence in our own self-worth, but as much as it does, we all bounce back. This bounce back is down to us as individuals and as members of a caring team. We are fortunate in that we have each other, the team checks in every day, we send each other group messages during the day - as well as running a quiz for people when they are up for it. It is these little things and points of contact that make us remember we are all part of a fantastic, caring and great team. We look after each other, all of us have periods of feeling low and we encourage each other to share and talk it through, as we are stronger together than apart and our team has such a vibrant set of personalities.

This approach is also how we as individuals apply ourselves outside of work, and we need to ensure we share this approach with as many as our friends and family as possible. There are so many simple things we can do to help ourselves in the first instance from creating a simple routine to give our days some structure and, where it is possible, building in some exercise or TV, book time (relaxing is more important than ever) and through looking after ourselves we can look after and support others.

There are many useful resources to support colleagues, family and friends - I've particularly found this COVID-19 resilience toolkit from Lancashire Mind (opens in new window) useful. 

Remember there is support out there for you: