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Business & Economy

Acas publishes new guidance on mental health during coronavirus

The workplace advisory expert, Acas, has published new guidance to help people working through the coronavirus look after their mental health.

The intervention comes as a recent YouGov survey found that nearly two out of five employees working from home felt stressed, anxious or experienced mental health difficulties due to their working situation.

The poll also found that one in two people working from home felt isolated and seven out of ten felt they were missing social interactions with others at work.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many people may be working from home, leaving home to go to work or on temporary leave (furloughed).

Acas’ new guidance highlights some practical steps workers can take to look after mental wellbeing in any of these situations.

The first step is to stay in contact with people by talking to colleagues or friends about how you’re feeling. Second is to have a routine so you know in advance what you’ll be doing each day.

It’s also important to keep active and exercise and make time for the activities in life you enjoy.

For those feeling isolated while working from home, Acas suggests talking to your manager about hours and when to take breaks, discussing what kind of contact you’d like and planning coffee breaks into your routine with other staff to keep in touch.

In respect of the anxieties many staff have around the safety of a physical return for work, Acas is calling on employers to make sure the working environment is safe, to protect staff from discrimination and to carry out regular risk assessments.

Acas chief executive, Susan Clews, said: “Many employees are working from home for the first time during this pandemic and it is clear from our poll that it is a very stressful or anxious experience for many people.

“The coronavirus lockdown has created lots of extra challenges such as a lack of social contact with work colleagues, feeling alone, trapped or struggling with childcare responsibilities.

“There’s also a real anxiety around the impact of the virus itself, job security concerns whilst on furlough and genuine worries around whether it is safe to physically return back to their workplace.

“Our new coronavirus mental health advice covers all of these different workplace situations and offers practical advice on how workers, managers and bosses can support their colleagues during this difficult time.”