It has been said many times in recent weeks that we live in strange times as we experience and work through the unprecedented and peculiar impact that the Coronavirus is having on us all. There’s the physical impact of being, on the whole, removed from our office spaces and regular work environments, the inability to hold networking and training events in the regular and ‘normal’ way and then there’s the restrictions on the lighter times for socialising and relaxing with colleagues (and family and friends!) and all important ‘down-time’, be that for sports, meals out, or trips to the cinema. The ‘new norm’ is an interesting idea but it has some obvious draw backs too. But what matters isn’t just the physical environment in which we inhabit; there’s perhaps never been a more important time to shine a light on the very real challenges that people experience with their own mental health and well-being. Working within the maritime sector, we are very aware of the unique challenges our industry can present in this context too, not least for seafarers and their families.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May). This year, the theme is the power and potential of kindness. Kindness is contagious and can strengthen relationships and develop communities, while also helping to reduce stress and improve our emotional wellbeing. Research suggests that kindness creates a sense of belonging, boosts self-esteem and improves feelings of confidence and optimism.
The Mental Health Foundation, the campaign organisers, have been asking people to get involved and talk about kindness and mental health. Many people have taken the opportunity to do this, taking to social media and sharing their thoughts, images and short videos using the hashtags #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. You can also share your ideas on how to build a kinder society that would support good mental health, using the same hashtags above.
Coronavirus has brought into sharp focus some of the most challenging times for individuals. The uncertainty of job security, the impact of working at home (particularly if there are challenges with personal relationships), health problems and worry about ‘shielding’ if you are in a vulnerable category and tragically for many the reality of dealing with bereavement and close family loss. A whole range of services and resources are available to support you during these times, with much valuable information available on the NHS UK website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/
At our recent Face-to-Face event with our occupational health partners, Kays Medical, they left us with five key well-being ideas which offer some neat pointers to sound principles for staying well at this time:
- Connect with other people
- Be physically active
- Learn new skills
- Give to others
- Pay attention to the present
Find out more about Kays’ important work in this area by visiting their website: https://www.kaysmedical.com/
These principles apply during this strange time of Covid-19 crisis, this week as we reflect particularly on mental health awareness but also more generally all year round, of course. Here at Mersey Maritime we pride ourselves on being a port of call or friendly ear for many of our members and we are delighted that so many of you have continued to engage with our regular public facing events and also our smaller and informal member surgery events each week. We are always available to you all, if needed. Let’s continue to engage in a positive way in the months ahead and support each during this pandemic challenge. But if you are struggling at the moment, don’t forget it is #OkayNotToBeOkay and there is a range of support out there to help you during this time.
Stay alert, stay well and stay safe!