In this article, mental health charity Health in Mind provides expert advice for looking after yourself, coping with redundancy and knowing when to seek help.
Redundancy can have a huge impact on mental health and can often make you feel very alone. In a past survey that we conducted, we found that 8% of people would be unwilling to tell anyone if they were made redundant. Some popular reasons for this included embarrassment and not wanting to be judged.
We asked mental health charity Health in Mind for some advice on coping with redundancy.
Losing your job can have a huge impact on your mental health. Can you talk us through some of the potential impacts it can have?
Although losing your job isn’t always a negative event, for some people it can bring up feelings of rejection, low self-esteem and loss. Feeling less productive and a loss of social contact can also leave people feeling isolated. There are two areas that are really important for people to feel mentally well and these are contact with other people and feeling a sense of purpose, both of which are affected when you lose your job.
Anxiety caused by redundancy or the threat of it, can have physical as well as emotional effects. Some people will experience a few of the symptoms below, whilst others may experience all the symptoms. Anxiety can be self-perpetuating, as the symptoms are distressing in themselves.
Feelings can include:
- Feeling afraid or very worried
- Feeling of dread or panic
- Being on edge all the time
- Being unable to concentrate
- Difficulty sleeping
- Depersonalisation – an unusual experience where the person feels as if he / she is unreal.
Physical symptoms can include:
- Feeling very hot
- Fast shallow breathing / shortness of breath
- Dry or tight throat
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Feeling dizzy / fainting
- Stomach aches
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal churning
Can you talk us through some methods for coping with the mental effects of redundancy?
If you are struggling with the mental health effects of redundancy and find that your mood is low for more than two weeks then speak to your GP as they will be able to offer you support to deal with what is happening. It can be helpful to talk to a professional about how redundancy is affecting you.
Remember to take time to look after yourself through this difficult period. Talking to family and friends and having social contact is important. Exercise and keeping active can be very beneficial; you can go for a walk, go to the gym or try a new class like yoga.
Having a sense of purpose is important, so set goals and make plans.
How do you think employers can improve when it comes to providing support for employees during redundancy?
Mental health among staff can be supported by ensuring that the redundancy selection process is fair, open and transparent for everyone and does not discriminate against protected groups.
Where resources allow, employers should provide employees facing redundancy with: access to career advisory services; access to counselling services; access to funding to take up training opportunities that may support future employment options; enhanced redundancy payments to provide a greater cushion until alternative work can be found.
Such initiatives will allow people to feel more in control at a difficult time, through allowing opportunity to plan ahead and explore options and concerns.
At all stages of employment employees should be regularly appraised and encouraged to continuously develop skills and abilities that benefit themselves and the business. Then, when the business needs to change and redundancy arises, people are better placed to adapt to changes and new opportunities.