News release from 17/03/2021

Online help provides insight into mental health pressures for local businesses

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Two councils have come together to extend a helping hand to the local business community in Greater Cambridge, going beyond their role in distributing financial grant help.

Recognising that mental health problems are increasingly affecting people during the Coronavirus restrictions and lockdown periods, South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils are running a series of free Business Support Mental Health webinars.

Mental health issues and employment worries are closely linked and among the leading cause of sickness absence in the workplace. This has been exacerbated by the stress of keeping businesses going during the current pandemic, anxiety over the virus itself, financial insecurity and the loss of support created by not being able to see family, friends, colleagues or customers.

A recent poll, carried out by YouGov for the Social Mobility Commission, showed significant public concern about mental health with almost half of adults believing it should be a post-pandemic priority for the Government. Of the 4,693 adults in the UK surveyed, 55% thought the pandemic has had the most impact on mental health, while 46% said addressing mental health issues should be a key priority for the Government in any pandemic recovery plan. 

Hosted by a leading inspirational speaker in the field, Nick Elston, the webinars will look at how to recognise and manage stress in the current business environment, while also looking ahead to the future challenge of coping with the inevitable changes which will need to be made to business models as the world moves into the recovery period.

The four webinars can be accessed online and are free to attend:-

  • Managing big and difficult feelings – Tuesday 13 April 1-2pm. Covering how to cope with feelings of guilt, anger and frustration regarding the lack of perceived help and assistance due to the pandemic, and also managing feelings and emotions particularly surrounding failure and obligation for those who have had to lay off staff for the first time.
  • Building Resilience – Wednesday 5 May, 1-2pm. Building resilience mechanisms when businesses are on the brink of closure or have already had to cease trading. As you begin to rebuild/start again, how to manage the low points and possible suicidal thoughts created by business-related issues. 
  • Managing diversification and change - Thursday 27 May, 1-2pm. There are many stresses in having to pivot, diversify and run new operating models quickly. Many concerns have had to move their businesses online or to delivery only very quickly. How can you manage and cope with always needing to be agile and learning new skills and ways of thinking?
  • Coping with financial stress – Tuesday 15 June, 12.30-1.30pm. Many business owners are facing having to do more with less as a long-term option. How can you look after your mental health and physical well-being in that stressful situation? 

Cllr Peter McDonald, Lead Cabinet Member for Business Recovery and Skills for South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Our Business Support and Development Team is working incredibly hard to make sure as many businesses as possible are supported with financial help, paying out over £31 million in Government grants in 11 months.  But behind all of those payments are many human stories of a great deal of worry over financial insecurity and fighting to keep businesses open and work colleagues in employment, and that is having a huge impact on mental welfare. We don’t want that situation to become a second hidden pandemic, so the opportunity to bring it into the open and offer an insight and information on how to deal with it will, I’m sure, be very welcome for many in our local business communities.”

Cllr Mike Davey, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources at Cambridge City Council, said: “Any of us can be affected by mental health issues at any time, but more people have been experiencing problems in the last year due to the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic, lockdown and enforced changes to their home and work life. This series of free seminars by a leading trainer will provide some realistic advice and tips for people involved in businesses of all sizes, including practical ways to deal with unwanted or unexpected scenarios, and how to plan ahead in uncertain times. I would urge anyone in the local business community to join in with these free webinars which I’m sure will prove very useful.”

Read full guidance on the webinars or information on financial support grant funding for businesses in South Cambridgeshire.