If you missed Nurse Joan’s ‘Stay In, Stay Safe’ session about ‘Mental Health & How to Spot If Someone is Struggling’, you can watch it again here. We’ve also summarised all of the main points that he covered in his session below:
Let’s talk about mental health.
Mental health determines how we feel about ourselves, the way we interact with those around us and form relationships, and how we overcome the challenges life throws our way.
However, when mental health starts to interfere with everyday life and our abilities to relax, socialise and work effectively, it becomes a mental health issue. It’s common to experience issues with our wellbeing from time to time. You are not alone. Especially during this pandemic.
During the ‘Stay In, Stay Safe’ session on the 28.10 2020, Joan gave some tips on how to take care of your own mental health:
1. Plan your day
2. Be active
3. Try a relaxation technique
4. Connect with others(virtually)
5. Take time to reflect and practice self-compassion
6. Improve your sleep
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic spike in mental health problems with cases tripling with now one out of every four adults experiencing depression. Mental health helplines are experiencing a surge in calls. The third lockdown has triggered an ‘unprecedented crisis’ in mental health issues.
On this session Joan talks specifically about how to spot if anyone is struggling with their mental health. More and more people work or study in virtual work environments, the challenge for so many of us is how to identify and “spot” the warning signs of those friends, fellow students or relatives in need.
Thanks to public health initiatives over the last decades which have raised awareness on mental health education, many in the general population are aware of the warning signs of depression — like social withdrawal, changes in mood or increased irritability, absenteeism, decreased productivity, or even anxiety.
Yet, these subtle clues are much harder to spot in people working remotely, so here are some things you should be on the lookout for as people continue to study and work from home:
Perhaps you notice inconsistencies in a friend or relative communications. They are typically very active by email/slack or other communication channels in the mornings or mid-afternoons, but you begin to notice long lags, delays or inconsistency in their communication. Perhaps you haven’t heard from them in several days in a row with no advanced notice of their absence.
Pay attention to small clues about how your friend presents in virtual settings. Do they seem unkempt, tired, or even dishevelled? This could be a warning sign that they are not doing well. If they begin appearing this way often, this could be a sign of depression. On the contrary, when they join meetings or online classes, do they regularly seem distracted, on edge, or even irritable. If so, these subtle signs could signal anxiety.
Notice changes in performance or consistency. Depression can cause cognitive changes that have an impact on memory, time management and other executive functioning tasks. Do you notice your friend is showing up late to video meetings, or missing classes in general which aren’t characteristic based on past attendance? If so, this is a sign that they might be struggling with their mental health
While it may seem paradoxical, being “over productive” may also be a warning sign of emotional or mental health issues especially if someone is coping with their anxiety, stress, or sadness by overworking to avoid their feelings. With the “blur” between home and work being so fuzzy during the pandemic, many people report having a harder time “turning off” their work and as a result this always “on” mentality and contribute to emotional and physical exhaustion and may even contribute to prolonged burnout.
With so much stigma surrounding mental health issues in the workplace, we are often afraid of asking how someone is doing. Yet, noticing small warning signs and checking in with them shows caring and concern. It may open the door for your friend to share stressors they are experiencing at home or with transitioning to remote living or studying during COVID.
We all should acknowledge that each one of us is experience unprecedented demands during this time. Not only are people struggling with anxiety or concern about the health and safety of themselves, family members, and loved ones, but they are juggling new roles.
Look for what is on offer: mental health or wellness days, virtual meditation or yoga classes. Each University should have a mental health and wellbeing plan in place with lots of activities and support that you can pinpoint to your friend. And who knows maybe join together.