MHFA England Chief Executive, Simon Blake, blogs on tomorrow's launch of My Whole Self 

Coronavirus is certainly focusing all of our minds. The pandemic is challenging us all as individuals, collectives and organisations to develop new ways of working together for the coming period. And truth is, none of us really knows how long that coming period will be, or quite what the economic, personal and social impact will be. And that uncertainty can be extremely stressful and worrying.  

Our friends over at Mental Health Foundation have published advice on Looking After Your Mental Health during the Coronavirus outbreak as have Mind. The City Mental Health Alliance has also produced a factsheet about Supporting Colleagues to stay mentally healthy in unusual working conditions.  

While none of us know for sure what the impacts will be, we know without doubt, there will be many. Like most people and organisations, we at MHFA England will continue to work out how we can play our part as a responsible social enterprise. We are meeting on a daily basis to understand exactly what the coronavirus outbreak means for our day-to-day operations and communications. We will be making decisions based on the best information we have – however difficult they may be.  

One decision we have made is that we will still be launching our My Whole Self campaign albeit with a bit of a twist. Although it was conceived in different times, when most people were literally taking themselves to work, we find ourselves launching the campaign at a time when many offices – including MHFA England’s – are asking people to work from home temporarily.  

In this current climate, and as more organisations move to online working, human connections are more important than ever. Nurturing them in person and virtually will be key to supporting the nation’s mental health and wellbeing as we come together to tackle the coronavirus. We will therefore focus the first phase of My Whole Self campaign activities on providing guidance designed to support employees feeling the impact of the coronavirus.  

We know that office life plays a central role in sharing worries, problem solving, learning together and laughing together, and that working remotely can sometimes feel isolating. My Whole Self Day is an opportunity to counter this, strengthen relationships and build connections virtually.  

My Whole Self is also a long-term culture change campaign: it is about changing how we think as employees and employers. My Whole Self is not about a specific place. Whether online or offline, bringing your whole self to work is a mindset that is better for wellbeing and better for business.  

This mindset is about being able to use all our energy and brain working on the tasks at hand, instead of worrying about saying the right thing, wearing the right thing (although important to remember – as I and many others have learned from bitter experience - it is easy to look undressed on video calls!), or feeling as though your ideas aren’t being heard and your work isn’t being credited to you.  

When we bring authenticity, kindness and our whole self to our jobs, it enables us to work better together, boosting performance, creativity and innovation. So, on Wednesday 18 March, we will be encouraging everyone to build deeper connections with colleagues and join the campaign online by sharing a My Whole Selfie so we can continue to learn about each other, and of course, have a bit of fun!   

At MHFA England, as part of My Whole Self and in the weeks ahead, we will be sharing our own and other content that we think may be useful to help us work through this extraordinary time.  

Together, as an MHFA England community, we have the skills and knowledge to make a difference during this difficult period.  

If you have ideas and thoughts for us as a central team, or examples of how you or others are making a difference in your communities, please do email us