Managing your Mental Health at Work

In light of this years Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re sharing some of our favourite wellbeing tips to help manage & improve your mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week is devoted to raising awareness and understanding of the modern-day mental health epidemic. As mental health awareness becomes increasingly important in our society, we think our mental health should be a priority wherever we are, and that includes the workplace. View our favourite wellbeing tips below:

Take time for yourself and your hobbies

Hobbies can help you gain a sense of work-life balance, plus, doing something you enjoy is a great way to de-stress and take care of your mental health.

Making time for your hobbies or learning a new skill can improve your mood, take your mind off things that are worrying you and help increase your motivation. Learning something new is also a great way to keep your brain healthy!

So whether it’s cooking, learning a new language or a bit of gardening and DIY, making time for YOU is guaranteed to improve your mood!

Mind have some great ideas here.

Mental Health Awareness Week blog image showing someone doing some gardening, taking time for their hobbies.

Establish work-life balance

Getting your work-life balance right will help manage your stress-levels and emotional wellbeing.

Ensure you’re taking regular breaks throughout your working day and make sure some of these are away from screens. A quick walk outside is a great way to break up the day, soak up some daylight and stretch your legs.

Establishing boundaries can create a better work-life balance if you find getting away from tech hard to do. Set times for work hours, or make rules such as not reading emails after 5pm.

Learn about DfT’s flexible working here.

Mental Health Awareness Week blog image showing someone taking time to meditate, practicing work-life balance.

Get moving & build healthy habits

Your physical health is just as important as your mental health, and they contribute towards each other.

Physical activity can help reduce nervous energy and help you sleep better. It also improves your mood and increases self-esteem. Find a form of exercise you enjoy and make sure you get some fresh air – even if it’s only a 15 minute walk, it will make a big difference.

Your diet also plays a large part in your wellbeing. Drinking enough water is important for your mental and physical health. Eating well can reduce mood swings and improve your ability to focus. Not only that, but your brain needs amino acids (found in protein-rich foods) to produce chemicals that help regulate thoughts and feelings.

Read more about how food impacts mental health here.

Mental Health Awareness Week blog image showing people exercising and getting active.

Sleep well

There’s a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.

To improve your sleep, try some of the following:

  • Get plenty of daylight during the day and avoid using screens before you go to sleep.
  • Exercise and eat healthily, try to avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening.
  • Use black-out curtains or blinds to block out light, or use a nightlight/bedside lamp if you struggle to sleep in darkness.
  • Have a relaxing soak in the bath before bed or try listening to soothing music.
  • Adjust the room temperature to suit you.

Keeping a sleep diary is a great way to record what works and what doesn’t. Try recording information about your sleep habits to help you understand what’s affecting your sleep.

Find top tips for sleeping well here.

Mental Health Awareness Week blog image showing someone sleeping well.

Stay connected

Connecting with others can help us have a greater sense of belonging and reduce feelings of loneliness.

Good relationships are important for your emotional wellbeing.  Spending more time with your friends or family, making new connections, or just having lunch with a colleague will improve your mood and your mental health.

If you’re finding things hard, opening up to a trusted friend, family member or peer can help you feel listened to and supported.

Online community support groups, such as Mind’s Side by Side, are a great place to start.

Mental Health Awareness Week blog image showing people connecting with family and loved ones.

Plan your day and celebrate your efforts

Setting goals and expectations for the day can help you manage your time and know what’s expected of you – unclear requirements can be stressful.

Some find the ‘chunking’ method beneficial over multi-tasking as this allows you to focus on one task for a set period of time, rather than trying to focus on multiple things at once. Try blocking out time in your day to focus on individual tasks.

Don’t forget to reward yourself for your efforts, no matter how small. Try to avoid perfectionism and focus on your progress instead.

Discover how small successes can be a big deal here.

Mental Health Awareness Week blog image showing time management, planning and celebrating the small wins.

How to help and how to be helped

If you suspect someone is struggling with their mental health, there are lots of things you can do to support them. You could help share the load by helping with tasks, suggest doing an activity together or offer your time to listen. More advice can be found here.

Seeking help is often the first step towards getting and staying well, but it can be hard to know how to start or where to turn to. It’s common to feel unsure, and to wonder whether you should try to handle things on your own. Remember, it’s always ok to ask for help – even if you’re not sure you are experiencing a specific mental health problem.

Mental Health Awareness Week blog image showing self-esteem and belief in yourself. It's always okay to ask for help and support.

Mental Health Helplines and Resources

Need more information or support? Below is a list of mental health and wellbeing resources for information, advice and support.

NHS – advice, self-help and services

Mind Infoline – information and support

Rethink Mental Illness – local groups and services

Samaritans – for everyone

Shout  – free, confidential text support

Support you can get as a Department for Transport employee

From coaching to tailored well-being support, DfT’s award-winning staff networks understand what makes a difference, and have the power to achieve change.

Our staff networks provide a wide range of benefits that come from having a collective voice. They help to create a sense of community in the workplace and can also offer wellbeing support whenever you need it.

In DfT you’ll have access to the following:

  • 50+ Network

    Representing the views of DfTc staff aged 50 and above on issues that affect them, such as career development, working conditions, pay, pensions and retirement

  • The Ability Network

    A staff network for anyone who is disabled or who has an interest in disability related issues

  • The Age and Carers Networks

    Bringing together younger and older staff, parents and carers, to share experiences in DfT and strengthen networks by working together

  • Carers Network

    A network for anyone in DfT who has caring responsibilities, or thinks they may do in the future, to share experiences and work with others

  • Christians in Government

    Supporting Christians of all denominations in DfT to grow faith in the workplace through prayer and reflection

  • Employees with Young Families Network

    A network that aims to support, inform and inspire members by sharing experiences and information on issues that affect employees with young families

  • Gender Equality Network

    Fostering a culture where everyone has access to the same opportunities, regardless of gender, through support, discussion and raising the profile of gender-related issues in the workplace

  • Jewish Network

    Providing Jewish and other civil servants with events and activities that educate and celebrate all aspects of Jewish life and culture

  • LGBT+ and Allies Network

    Helping all staff, regardless of sexuality, to feel able to be themselves in the workplace, and subsequently to be recognised as a supportive and inclusive Department for LGBT+ staff

  • Muslim Network

    Aiming to raise awareness of Islam by engaging, advising and empowering all colleagues (Muslims and non-Muslims)

  • Neurodiversity Network

    Seeking to support those colleagues whose neurodiversity has given them skills that, when nurtured, make them a fantastic asset to DfT

  • Positive Support Group

    DfTc’s principal network for ethnic minorities, promoting the importance of diversity whilst removing barriers to career progression

  • Social Mobility Network

    Positively shaping DfTc as a place where your background doesn’t determine your success, proactively increasing the socio-economic diversity of DfTc.

  • Young People’s Network

    Supporting, informing and providing opportunity for young people throughout their journey while working for DfTc.

  • Bereavement Network

    A staff-led group of volunteers to provide support for colleagues going through bereavement and to champion this important issue across DfT

  • The Fair Treatment Ambassadors

    A staff-led group of volunteers with training who can offer a friendly voice or face at a time of need, who will listen and signpost you to the range of professional and other support options available at DfT.

  • Wellbeing Champions

    A network of wellbeing champions, volunteers from within the business who support the wellbeing agenda, working together with the wellbeing team as the focal point

  • Mental Health First Aiders

    At DfT we have a group of 20 passionate and committed MHFA’s in the department.

  • Employee Assistance Programme

    Specialist counsellors are available, providing independent and confidential support and advice to staff and immediate family members.