With the vaccine rollout making a post-pandemic world feel tantalisingly close and restrictions gradually easing, there are finally reasons to feel hopeful in this ongoing pandemic.
However, we must be cautious in our rush to return to normal, not just to prevent another spike in cases, but because we will be feeling the impact the pandemic had on our collective mental wellbeing for months, if not years, to come.
After a year where no one was able to live normally, many people are going to find themselves tackling mental health problems that they may have never experienced before.
For example, someone who was once confident in crowds may become intensely stressed upon their first busy commute in over a year, or someone who is usually a social butterfly might find themselves anxious being face-to-face with strangers again.
Monitor how you are feeling as you readjust to situations and environments that you may have had little to no exposure to over the pandemic. It may be useful to write down times when you did not react how you expected or how you wanted to, the situations in which these feelings occurred and what helped you to feel better.
If you have not had mental health problems up until this point, remember that it is entirely normal to experience them at one point or another. Expecting flawless mental health your entire life is as unrealistic as expecting to never to catch a cold. After this past year, no one would be surprised if you are struggling.
In general, be gentle and patient with yourself and others. If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to friends and family or mental health professionals. You will find that many, many people are feeling the same way.
If it is clear that the pandemic has affected your mental health to a degree that is beyond what you can cope with yourself, contact the NHS for advice and treatment. While we hope this article is helpful, it is in no way a replacement for professional care.
While this advice will differ in success from workplace to workplace, it is important to let your colleagues know if you are struggling to adapt to the challenges of working during the pandemic or returning to the office after months of isolation
This is particularly important in the security industry, where officers need to be able to cope with high-stress situations, as they have continued to do so throughout the pandemic. Our officers have been on the frontlines of both the viral and the mental health pandemics of the past year.
The risks of substandard mental health support are compounded by the security industry’s overwhelmingly male workforce. While the stigma has softened over time, there is still a dangerous habit amongst men to hide their internal struggles and see mental health issues as a sign of weakness, in themselves or others.
There are tragic consequences to the male mental health pandemic, with suicide rates are highest amongst young and middle-aged men in England and Wales by a significant margin.
Whether or not staff feel comfortable opening up is the responsibility of management, who need to provide a sympathetic ear backed up with tangible support for anyone who comes forward about mental health problems. An environment of silence is not only counterproductive, it can be deadly.
“I’m working closely with my whole workforce to ensure on-going mental health support for our team, their families and any of the communities they work with. I implore my counterparts in other organisations to do the same.
“A key part of what we do is as simple as gathering advice and thoughts from respected sources and sharing them through a variety of channels. These include mental and physical health advice because the two go hand in hand. When we improve our bodies, we improve our mental health and vice versa.
“We have an opportunity and a short window to help a generation of security guards stay healthy – now is the time to act.”
Abbey Petkar, MD
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