Winter wellbeing | Mental health support vital during December, expert warns

Mental health support vital during December, expert warns

Employers will be doing their workers a disservice this December if they fail to provide information about what mental health support is available within their employee benefits, says a health &wellbeing service provider

RedArc warns that employers who want to see their staff return to work after the festive break in their best possible form, need to look after their employees’ mental health during December.

Mental health issues can surface at this time for many reasons. Those who previously struggled with a mental health concern may find the pressures of this period are just too much, which can mean their symptoms return.

However, Christmas can also be the straw that broke the camel’s back for those who have not previously suffered, simply due to the inevitable pressures of home life and a shorter working month.

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Similarly, with parties, department celebrations, and after-work gatherings making a return this year, those who, for any number of reasons, find social situations difficult, can find the festive season takes a toll on their mental health. And some employees will find the period hard due to experiencing feelings of grief or loss for missing loved ones. The cost-of-living crisis will also exacerbate anxiety for many.

Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc said: “It’s so important to look out for members of staff for whom Christmas is not ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. Many employers will have mental health support embedded into existing employee benefits, so they are already well-equipped to provide support, but it is a case of reminding employees that it exists and how to access it.”

Feast or famine

It’s not just the busy period before the festivities begin that employees may find stressful. For those who live on their own, are lonely, or have difficult family relationships, the break from work is not always a welcome one. As many businesses will be quieter or closed for several days or longer, employers should remind staff of the availability of the mental health support systems that they have invested in on behalf of their staff.

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Particularly at this time of year, employees need to be reminded of passwords and how and where to log in to access support. With fewer IT and HR personnel available to contact over this time, employers should ensure that employees who need support do not fail to access it. Providing reminders in team meetings, on the company intranet, on posters and in emails will help all staff know which site or app to log in to, what details they will need, and what to do if they have trouble.

Husbands continued: “Employers will want their staff to be in the best possible mental health to hit the ground running in January. For most staff, a few days off spent with family and friends, eating, drinking and being merry is a mood booster. However, for those who find this period difficult, ensuring that mental health support is in place and that employees know how to access it, will give everyone the best possible chance of coming back to work ready for the new year, new challenges and new opportunities.”

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