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Mental Health Awareness Week

Posted: May 6, 2022

Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week. This is an opportunity for us all to focus on achieving good mental health.

Each year Mental Health Awareness Week has a different focus and this year the theme is loneliness. Loneliness is affecting more and more of us and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic. Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health and we need to find better ways of tackling the epidemic of loneliness.

What causes loneliness?

 Loneliness is a painful emotion that occurs when a person perceives that they are alone, or isolated from other people. It can arise from working in a virtual or geographically dispersed team or sometimes from being in a team of one. People can feel lonely even when they work in a packed office or in a busy service and it’s a feeling that can affect anyone regardless of their role or seniority level.

Personal issues such as bereavement and financial worries can induce loneliness. As can workplace conditions such as shift patterns, team dynamics or possibly where a person sits.

Technology can also play a role, for example, remote working can make people feel ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

What can we do about it?

 The challenge for the week is to take an action to combat loneliness, ask someone what they are doing for lunch, drop a colleague you haven’t seen for a while a message, say hello to the new person that you haven’t met yet or maybe organise a team event.

Don’t forget that we have an amazing employee assistance package to support our mental health. Below is a real life story about one of our employees and their experience of using the counselling service from Hospital Saturday Fund (HSF) that is available to all employees for free. This story does not involve loneliness, but really demonstrates the benefit that talking about our mental health can have.

An example of how HSF can help

“During lockdown I started to feel more anxious about going out and about.  It was getting to the point where I couldn’t even do simple tasks like nip to the shops and even the thought of going away for a couple of days which would normally make me feel excited , filled me with dread. I knew this was completely out of character for me and also knew that it was something I needed to ‘fix’.

“I read some books and looked online for tips on how to deal with anxiety but none of that seemed to work. Then I remembered we have access to free counselling sessions through the Hospital Saturday Fund (HSF).

“I plucked up the courage to give the helpline a call which was probably the hardest part of the whole thing. They took all of my details and said they would pass them onto a counsellor who would contact me for a chat. They also explained that when I was allocated a counsellor this would be the same person throughout the sessions. I must admit, when I had my first call with the councillor I really didn’t think it was for me. I came off the phone thinking it was a waste of time. However I persevered as it was free after all and I would try anything to feel like me again!

“I felt the same after my second call with the counsellor but I asked if we could do the calls via Zoom instead and that is when I noticed a real difference. I can’t quite but my finger on what we did or spoke about that helped, but I really looked forward to our calls.

“We are provided with six free sessions through HSF however I decided to have some extra and the counsellor agreed a reduced rate for me.  I would definitely urge anyone needing a little bit of support or advice to reach out to the HSF. I feel like me again and my world has opened up and it is all thanks to the HSF.”

How do I register?

Not registered for HSF but want to do it now? Follow the instructions below:

Click on MyPolicy and register here using your policy number as it appeared in your welcome letter. To view a guide on setting up MyPolicy, click here.

If you can’t find your policy number, you can find this on HR Gateway under staff benefits – simply scroll down to the bottom to get your policy number.

If you have any problems registering or any questions contact HSF on 020 7202 1380 or you can email customer@hsf.eu.com.

Click on HSF Assist and take a look at the advice, information and counselling you can now access.