07/12/2020

My advice would be to turn to each other

Shaun
Shaun

Royal Mail

As part of the Our Frontline campaign to support the mental health of all those out working to protect us during the coronavirus crisis, we’ll be regularly sharing stories, tips and other thoughts about what life is like for them at the moment, in their own words.

Shaun works for Royal Mail. Here, he shares how important it has been to take time for his own mental health, and the wellbeing of his colleagues.


It has been a challenging year for frontline workers across the UK and I’m really proud of the way our teams at Royal Mail have stepped up to the challenge of working throughout the pandemic. The difference that creating an open work environment can make, where your colleagues feel able to talk about their wellbeing, cannot be overlooked.

Throughout the pandemic, the workload has been very consistent and it has been a pretty demanding few months. One of the biggest challenges we’ve been faced with at Royal Mail is handling the number of parcels that need to be delivered. In lockdown, with everyone ordering more things, this has meant an increase in pressure on our delivery teams on the frontline. Our teams have been incredible at stepping up to the challenge and are very proud of the key role that they have had throughout the pandemic and continue to have.

We had the tools in place to support colleagues with their wellbeing

It’s vital that people feel supported at work, not just throughout a pandemic but every day and we do a lot of work throughout the year on mental health. We have internal support networks​St Mungo’s Diversity Networks PDF Networks are a great way of connecting staff who have similar experiences and backgrounds. At St Mungo's, there are several different groups offering support and advice.Free By: St Mungo’s View resource and initiatives in place to support every employee in Royal Mail. This meant that when Covid hit, we had the tools in place to support colleagues with their wellbeing. Our senior leaders all talk about mental health and the support available, to encourage employees to reach out for support​Take 10 Together: Starting the conversation PDF Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England is calling on everyone to ‘Take 10 Together’ and take ten minutes to start a conversation about mental health. Free By: Mental Health First Aid England View resource if needed.

A man is cheered up by a text.

It’s important to talk openly about how you’re looking after your mental wellbeing with your colleagues. It makes it real, that’s what people want, they want the reality of it. It has certainly been a challenging few months but I do practice what I preach. I make sure that I eat well, sleep well​Sleep hygiene PDF A good night’s sleep refuels, revitalises and re-energises you, making you feel refreshed, positive and equipped to cope with the stresses of a normal day. This guide makes some suggestions on how you might improve the quality of your sleep.Free By: Unilever View resource and get time for exercise​Importance of being active PDF This one-page PDF from Unilever suggests three tests you can perform to test your own flexibility and balance, which are key indicators of your physical health.Free By: Unilever View resource. At points during the pandemic, I’ve been working from sunrise to sunset. So it was important to make sure that I found time to take care of myself. Taking this time, no matter how busy you are at work can make a massive difference to your mental and physical resilience​ABC guide to personal resilience Web page The ABC guide is a simple set of ideas for maintaining and enhancing your personal resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.Free By: NHS England and NHS Improvement View resource.

I feel a lot closer to my colleagues through our video calls

To keep team spirits high at work, we’ve really made an effort to keep connected online. I feel a lot closer to my colleagues through these video calls. You get a little window into your team’s life that you wouldn’t usually see, like someone’s toddler walking in and pulling a glass off the table. Keeping this bit of humour to laugh at these moments together has meant that the dialogue between us as a team opened. Conversations opening up​How can you have the right conversation to support an employee at work? PDF As a line manager, it’s important to recognise how to manage the emotional wellbeing of employees at work. This two-page guide from Nuffield Health explores five key steps to help staff move from emotionally barely surviving back to thriving.Free By: Nuffield Health View resource in this way has been really helpful and meant that we can understand each other even better as a team. We all work in serious and responsible jobs but that doesn’t mean that has to be entirely who you are. You can still have a bit of fun, connect and see each other as work mates, looking out for each other and getting to know how people are really feeling.

Colleagues share a tea break over Zoom.

If there is anyone working on the frontline, struggling with their mental health, my advice would be to turn to each other. We all have tough times, we all have challenges. It doesn’t have to define you. If you came into work with a broken arm, you will be in a cast for a few weeks, have a bit of physio and then it’s done. You’re not always going to be treated as ‘that’s the person that broke their arm’, it doesn’t stay with you for the rest of your life. We need to try and normalise mental health​Tools for raising awareness and tackling stigma Web page Line managers and supervisors are the frontline of wellbeing management. This resource shows managers in the railway industry where to find information to promote awareness of mental health in the workplace.FreeSign up for free to access By: RSSB View resource to make it the same thing. To make sure people know that there is support available and that your mental health doesn’t define who you are.

All of these issues are part of you, not all of you

I understand that some people might feel worried about being labelled as ‘that person with a mental health condition’ but experiencing challenges to your mental health doesn’t mean that you will always struggle. It could just be a particular moment in time that is affecting you, such as going through a break up or not getting on with your boss. All of these issues are part of you, not all of you and talking about the challenges you’re going through can make them feel more manageable.

If I had someone in my team talk to me about a challenge to their mental health that they’re experiencing, I wouldn’t see them as any less capable of their job. I would see them as great ambassadors for mental health because you could argue, who could empathise better with someone with a mental health challenge than someone going through something similar.

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