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Returning to the Office Post-COVID: Insight and Best Practice 

Any period of change can be a volatile time for those who suffer from mental ill health.

Two years ago, for many, that change was the switch to working from home full-time, which came with rising concerns about loneliness, work-life balance, among other things. Now, with many businesses returning to their offices, the opposite problem is presented: what can be done to support employees who have anxieties around returning to the workplace? 

Since the pandemic began, the number of people suffering from anxiety and depression has increased by 25%. Now more than ever, your employees may need support with their mental health and wellbeing. 

There are dozens of articles online telling you what you should and shouldn’t be doing about returning to the office, and the advice is often conflicting. Ultimately, all people and teams are different so there’s no real cookie-cutter solution for how to approach office life post-Covid. The most important thing you can do as a leader is to speak to your team about how they’re feeling. What are their main concerns? Do they have any ideas for how the transition could be made easier? What did they think worked well with their homeworking setup that could be replicated in the office? 

One aspect to consider is illustrated in episode 3 of our Safe Space podcast, where Robin Gray of Gayming Magazine talks about how returning to an office environment can be difficult for some LGBTQIA+ individuals, particularly those who are trans or gender nonconforming. Sometimes a person’s home office is a safer environment for them as they can be more authentically themselves. Taking some of the measures Robin discusses here may help to turn your office into a safer space. 

The UK-based employment advisory service, Acas, discusses the Health & Safety aspects of returning to work now that most, if not all, Covid-19 restrictions have ended. It would be a good time to make your employees aware that they can request reasonable adjustments, as well as helping them understand their rights in the workplace. 

It may be that working life never returns to what it was before Covid – and that might be a good thing. The University of Southampton did a study on what learnings could be taken from homeworking throughout the pandemic with a view of incorporating hybrid and flexible working patterns into the “new normal.” The University offers 10 steps for succeeding in hybrid working, including the need to engage with staff preferences, and thinking about offering flexibility with working hours, not only location. 

If you have any success stories or learnings from your experience of returning to the office, we would love to hear about them! Please get in touch with Sky Tunley-Stainton via sky@safeinourworld.com 

Skills utilised:
Covid 19, News

Celebrating a year of being part of the Safe In Our World ‘Level Up Mental Health’ initiative with Sumo Group

In May 2021, Sumo Group partnered with Safe In Our World as part of its #LevelUpMentalHealth initiative.

Joining at this time reflected the commitment that Sumo had already made to supporting the mental health of its people. The Group had already begun to roll out a company-wide mental health support system and believed that making this pledge visible to all as part of an industry wide effort would further demonstrate its ongoing commitment to such an important area of health.

 

 

For Mental Health Awareness Week this week, Sumo Group takes a look at some of the changes made across its 16 studios over the past 12 months to support its people’s wellbeing.

From developing and delivering in-house mental health awareness training for managers, to surprising their teams with pick-me-ups in the post, Sumo Group have pulled together a variety of support for their employees to contribute to their wellbeing at work. (Read the full list of changes at the full piece below!)

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Sumo Group is rolling out its week-long mental health-focused activity around the topic of ‘Loneliness’ – offering time and space for reflection, conversation and action.

In addition to the above, the Group continues to provide access to mental health support, trained mental health first aiders across the business and a focus on wellbeing at regular points through the year on Dojo (the Groups award winning learning platform). Sumo Group has been being recognised in the UK Best Companies to Work For awards two years running – a direct reflection of the improvements made Group-wide following listening to and acting upon, valued feedback from its teams. Alongside it’s continued partnership with Safe in Our World, the Group continues to look for ways to enhance and improve the wellbeing of its people, ensuring they remain at the very centre of the Group’s values.

Read the full profile piece.

Read another profile piece from recent Level Up Partner Sock Monkey!

 

Skills utilised:
News

University of Oxford Study Says Video Games Are “Good For Well-Being”

A recent study from Oxford University has found that time spent gaming is positively associated with wellbeing.

The data, derived from Plants vs Zombies and Animal Crossing (with over 3,000 surveys) has suggested that competence and the social elements of the games may contribute to people’s wellbeing.

Contrary to many, fears that excessive game time will lead to addiction and poor mental health, we found a small positive relation between game play and well-being.

Whilst finding this positive correlation, it is imperitive that more data is available to be able to be analysed to find out more about the intricate relationship between gaming and well-being in the future.

 

The authors have agreed that collaborations with industry partners are possible, can produce adequate data for analysis, and further collaborations to create longitudinal data will only improve insights into video games and our health.

To read more on the article, please click here.

Skills utilised:
News

Hellblade developer Ninja Theory announces “The Insight Project,” an initiative to make games addressing mental illness

Ninja Theory, the developer behind cult-favorite titles such as Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Heavenly Sword, has announced “The Insight Project,” a research and development initiative marrying game design and technology together with clinical neuroscience to produce games specifically intended to promote mental health awareness and assist those suffering from mental illness.

That Ninja Theory would announce such a forward-thinking project centered around mental health wellbeing perhaps comes as no surprise to those who closely follow the industry, as the developer won critical acclaim in 2017 for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a dark action/adventure title rooted in Norse mythology and Celtic culture whose titular heroine, Senua, suffers from psychosis.

Not only is it rare to see psychosis — and, by extension, mental illness in general — addressed in video games at all, it’s even rarer to see the disease represented thoughtfully and accurately, and Ninja Theory went out of their way to make sure Hellblade closely reflected what it can be like to live as one afflicted with psychosis.

Ninja Theory’s “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice” won several awards for its realistic and thoughtful representation of the psychosis its titular heroine, Senua, suffers from.

To say Ninja Theory’s efforts were successful would be putting it mildly: Hellblade ultimately won myriad awards, including five BAFTAs and a Royal College of Psychiatrists award. Following the game’s release, then, Ninja Theory creative director Tameem Antoniades and Paul Fletcher, a psychiatrist and professor of health neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, continued their collaborative discussions on how the medium of video games can be utilized to represent mental illness and play an assistive role for players struggling with their own mental health.

It was these continued discussions that ultimately resulted in the establishment of The Insight Project, which aims to continue and expand the work Ninja Theory and their collaborators started with Hellblade. In Ninja Theory’s own words, with The Insight Project the developer is “planning a program of gaming, technological, and scientific development that will lead to self-contained, individualized, and absorbing game experiences within which people can become an expert at recognizing, responding to, and ultimately controlling their own fear, anxiety, and other negative subjective experiences.”

To ensure the project’s veracity, effectiveness, and overall validity, these efforts will be grounded by “rigorous scientific principles” and will adhere to “strict standards” of ethics and data management.

While The Insight Project is very much a work in progress and meant to take shape over the next several years, the decision was made to announce the initiative early on in order to emphasize a transparent and open approach to its development. An exploratory but experimentally guided project, the initiative’s ultimate intent is to deliver a mainstream solution for treating mental suffering, encouraging mental wellbeing, and bringing mental health treatment into the mainstream.

Senua would be proud.

Skills utilised:
News

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