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Mental Health and Redundancy

Posted in career-advice

Friday, September 18th, 2020

At the beginning of this month, the Guardian reported an estimated 194,706 people had been made redundant, and unfortunately, this number is rising. For many people, the immediate response to redundancy involves panic and an urgency to find a new job. It is important, however, to take stock of your mental health at this time. For many people, working is an innate part of their identity, and is important for intellectual satisfaction and overall wellbeing. Men are particularly susceptible; indeed one in seven men develop depression within six months of losing their job. Regardless of gender, work provides purpose, a social network and a sense of belonging as part of a working team. It is important to recognise the distress that redundancy can bring mentally, often involving a loss of self-confidence, social contact, purpose and financial distress. Losing your job is emotionally challenging at the best of times. But with the added pressures of a recession and global pandemic to deal with, it’s completely understandable if you find yourself struggling with your mental health.

If you have found yourself facing redundancy this year, there are steps that you can take to make this transition a little easier. The first thing to remember is that you have nothing to be embarrassed about and you are not alone. As noted above, hundreds of thousands of talented, capable people are in exactly the same position, and this is simply a product of the unfortunate global landscape. Before you throw yourself straight into a new job hunt, take time to pause and acknowledge your situation, accept your negative feelings and allow yourself to grieve the loss of work. Robust mental health is pivotal to the resilience required for applying for new roles, and it is important to take care of both your physical and mental health.

It is also important to talk about how you are feeling, whether that be with a partner, a friend, or a relative. Many people benefit from professional help too, so do make an appointment with your GP to find out what services are available in your area. Many mental health services have self-referral schemes and online resources that may be helpful. The charity, Mind has a wealth of online advice and support that may be useful at this time. Guided meditation apps like Headspace and Calm can be accessed for free, and can also be helpful in reducing any anxiety, sleep troubles, or stress that you might be feeling.

Creating a plan for yourself moving forward can aid the transition and assist in maintaining a feeling of control over your own life. The obvious impact of a job loss for many is financial uncertainty. If you have worked for your employer for at least two years you will be entitled to either statutory or contractual redundancy pay. If you have been made redundant because your employer has been liquidated, contact the government’s Redundancy Payments Office to see if you are eligible to claim statutory redundancy pay. Moving forward, create a weekly budget to prevent payments from piling up. Look carefully at your spending. Switching bill providers, reviewing shopping habits, and prioritising debts and outgoing payments can assist in getting a handle on your finances. You may also be entitled to benefits whilst you look for a new job. The main benefit you can claim while out of work is Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Universal Credit if you live in an area where it’s already been rolled out. There may be other benefits available to you, depending on your circumstances, such as tax credits or help with housing costs.

Feeling easier about your finances, then take advantage of the opportunities presented by redundancy. Invest time in yourself. Physical activity and being outdoors have been proven to boost mood and improve mental wellbeing, as well as aiding overall health. Going for walks, running, doing online yoga and exercise classes are all activities than can help to provide a new routine and lifestyle that you may not have otherwise had time for. Why not also take this time to clean out your home, partake in some DIY, and enhance your space? Clearing out items you no longer use can help you to feel more content with your surroundings and provide a physical manifestation of new and exciting changes ahead. Diet also plays a crucial role in boosting mental health and wellbeing. Practice cooking new meals and baking, add fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet, and stick to regular mealtimes to further enhance a new structured routine. BBC GoodFood and Mob Kitchen are just two examples of websites with free recipe that can help provide excitement and make a real event out of mealtimes. Try to cut down on caffeine, alcohol, and sugary foods, especially in the evenings as they can disrupt sleep. If you’re someone who prefers to keep your brain stimulated and challenged, listening to podcasts, reading or doing puzzles can all be helpful in keeping your brain active and helping you to relax.

When you do come to think about your next role, create a realistic action plan to help you become controlled and organised in your search, being sure to break down your tasks into small achievable goals. Think about your previous role, the skills you developed, and your key achievements. Take a moment to celebrate all of your qualities and achievements so far. Be sure to also ask your former manager for a written reference. Once you have taken this time, update your CV and create an online networking presence on LinkedIn demonstrating your strength as an employee. Take the time to assess the aspects of the job you enjoyed, and the aspects you would like to avoid in your future role. Ask yourself if there are similar roles or industries that would suit your skill set and the work you have previously enjoyed doing. Reach out to any contacts you have who could tell you a little more about their industries and companies. Identify any areas your skill set could be further enhanced and used this time to enrol on courses to develop these. Coursera is a website with a wealth of free courses from universities around the world in almost every area imaginable; these can not only inform a personal or professional interest, but also help you to develop a sense of daily purpose and fulfilment and enhance your CV further.

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