COVID-19 has had a major impact on the UK’s mental health, something that will have devastating repercussions for years to come. Kooth Plc, the UK’s leading digital mental health services, has seen an increase in demand for services as people struggle to cope with anxiety, stress and job insecurity. Our data from the start of the pandemic period (March 2020-June 2020) revealed noticeable increases in several key presenting issues – family relationships, self worth and suicidal thoughts.
As a result of the stigma still surrounding mental illness, some employees may feel reluctant to share their struggles and mental health problems can often go unrecognised. It’s not always easy to spot the signs of mental health illness so here are some signs to watch out for:
Family Relationship Breakdowns
Why is this rising? With many couples and families now spending much of the day in close quarters juggling school runs, Zoom meetings, and meal planning, tensions can run high. This combined with mounting debt, not being able to socialise or even go to the gym to let off steam, means employees could be feeling angry, upset or frustrated – although it may not always be obvious when people have different outlooks and coping mechanisms when they feel overwhelmed.
How do you spot it? If you notice that someone you work with is talking about friction with their families – perhaps an argument they have had or a change in enthusiasm towards the people they live with – they may want somebody to confide in. You may also notice that your colleague is prone to sudden outbursts or is often short tempered. Online counsellors and peer support forums are a fantastic source of support, no matter how small the issue may seem. If an employee is opening up to you and you feel you’re not able to help as much as you’d like, having somewhere to signpost them to is important.
Why is this rising? Self worth involves a self appraisal of things such as appearance, beliefs, feelings, behaviours and performance. Whilst genetics undoubtedly play a part, our interactions with others and the world around are usually central to these appraisals. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for such interactions have been at best limited and at worst negative. From relationship breakdowns to loss of a regular exercise regime or engagement in activities that promote feelings of happiness and positivity, there are many factors at play, influencing how we feel about ourselves.
How do you spot it? There are a few ways to spot a colleague displaying self worth issues. Firstly, they may seem uninterested in setting goals for the future as they are lacking confidence. You may also notice them becoming defensive or becoming withdrawn. Lastly, people with self esteem issues often talk down to themselves and/or appear self-defeating.
Why is this rising? The emotional, financial and social impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented for the vast majority. Job losses aside, the costs of weekly grocery shops have increased significantly; sense of belonging and self worth have been hugely compromised and anxiety regarding what lies ahead is almost commonplace.
How do you spot it? Spotting someone with suicidal thoughts is tricky as the symptoms can differ between people and their situations. There are some specific behavioural and physical changes that you might notice in others including being distracted, anger, low mood, weight loss/weight gain and disinterest in personal appearance or hygiene. Early intervention is imperative to helping to prevent presenting issues such as low mood or anxiety from escalating into suicidal thoughts or even self harm. If you think someone is in crisis, then you should try and persuade them to contact a crisis service such as Samaritans by calling 116 123.
Why digital mental wellbeing toolkits are the way to go
Analysis by Annie Meharg, CCO of Kooth
It is clear that Covid-19 has had a negative impact on our mental health. Since the start of the pandemic, Kooth has seen unprecedented demand for its services. Providing your employees with a safe and anonymous space to access mental health and emotional wellbeing support is crucial.
Kooth users can receive synchronous or asynchronous support from qualified human practitioners via booked or drop-in sessions. We also provide clinically proven and research-backed tools such as pre moderated and safeguarded peer-to-peer community forums, thousands of advice articles through the Kooth magazine, goal setting and journaling supported by activities.
Traditionally, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) have focussed on reactive solutions such as phone counselling and GP appointments. At Kooth, we take a forward thinking, proactive approach more in tune with the times we are living in. Kooth’s digital mental health toolkit is not only designed to help people when they need it most but to also support people when they just need a bit of advice. Kooth keeps anonymity at the forefront of its platform, whilst still giving you the reporting tools you need to assess your company’s mental health as a whole.
Kooth uses 19 years of experience and data to constantly improve our product and clinical offerings. Our platform has one of the largest mental health data sets and is the only online mental health platform that captures real time insights on what is really affecting your workplace. Additionally, we’re the second biggest provider of mental health data to Public Health England and our data has been featured on Panorama and BBC News.
If you’re interested in learning more about how digital mental health toolkits can benefit your organisation, I’d love to have a chat with you. Connect with me on linkedin or email firstname.lastname@example.org.