Good Mental Health When WFH

‘Mental health’. Most people when hearing these words will automatically deflect to the negative side of the subject, focusing on the adverse issues. With the heightened level of attention rightly placed on mental health issues over recent years, this thought process is totally understandable and very valid. However, there are of course two sides to every subject and ‘good’ mental health is the flip side of this one and generally less discussed.


With this week being Mental Health Awareness week (10th to 16th May) which is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, and in particular because the theme of the campaign this year is ‘Nature’, we thought it useful to very briefly touch on the Good Mental Health aspects afforded by WFH.


There Was No Time for Nature


For many people, a typical pre-pandemic workday routine would have offered little chance to spend time outside of the home, the car, the train or the office, for at least 5 days a week. When opportunity did present itself, it would have been for minimal periods and probably within a busy or built-up environment, with neither of these, nor the long commutes, being conducive to staying in touch with nature and its associated good mental health benefits.



Benefits of Nature


As many recent studies have highlighted, millions of people have been compelled to reconnect with nature over the last year due to the various restrictions placed on our ‘old’ lifestyles. Walks in the countryside and an appreciation of our outdoors time and surroundings, have had a profoundly positive effect on many.


The benefits of taking just a moment to be conscious of the sights, sounds, smells and touch of the surrounding elements like the breeze, sunshine or rain, the birds, bees, butterflies and other animals or the trees, flowers and other fauna, should not be underestimated.

As Mark Rowland (Chief Executive of Mental Health Foundation) states, ‘Nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future’.


As we move into the next phase of the lifting of lockdown measures and life increasingly returns to ‘normal’, the inclination to returning to old ways and habits is likely to be strong, unless attention is paid to the newly emphasised mental health benefits of keeping in touch with nature within the working day.


As we move into the next phase of the lifting of lockdown measures and life increasingly returns to ‘normal’, the inclination to returning to old ways and habits is likely to be strong, unless attention is paid to the newly emphasised mental health benefits of keeping in touch with nature within the working day.


WFH Mental Health Facts:

57% of people benefited from spending time in their garden and 43% agreed that spending time in the park is good for their mental health, according to the report How connecting with nature benefits our mental health’ conducted by the Mental Health Foundation.




How Is WFH and Nature Linked?


It would have been deemed extremely difficult or even irrelevant for many people just over a year ago but WFH represents an incredible unforeseen chance to maximise the opportunity to link the benefits of nature, with people’s daily work patterns. The flexibility afforded by WFH on a hybrid or fulltime basis, means many will have the time to appreciate the joys and mental health benefits of their natural surroundings within a standard working week.


It may not be possible to have it ‘all sunshine and roses’ at all times but whether it is:


- taking a walk or jog in the countryside or park before or after work

- taking a coffee break in the garden or on the balcony midmorning and afternoon

- taking a momentary break to gaze out the open window of the WFH zone

…… the opportunities for sensory exposure of the natural elements and wildlife that WFH can present, can have a profoundly positive influence on mental health.



What is Good Mental Health?


According to the Mental Health Foundation, good mental health is not simply the absence of diagnosable mental health problems but is characterised by a person’s ability to fulfil several key functions and activities. These include the ability to:


- learn

- feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions

- form and maintain good relationships with others

- cope with and manage change and uncertainty.


Unsurprisingly, these are also four essential requirements of a healthy employer to employee relationship and so with a switch to WFH long term on a hybrid or fulltime basis, there is clearly a significant role for employers to fulfil in ensuring these elements are catered for in the structure between them and the WFH employee. Therefore, with a fundamental link between WFH and nature playing a key role in an employee’s mental health, employers should also be taking the opportunity to encourage employees to stay connected with nature within their working day.


In summary, there are many incredible organisations that offer guidance and support on Mental Health and indeed many suppliers of services and products directly linked with promoting and achieving Good Mental Health. However, with WFH presenting an opportunity for individuals to reconnect on a regular basis with nature, now is the time to grasp the opportunity before the ‘day to day’ gets in the way. Afterall, prevention is better than cure.


And finally, the Mental Health Foundation have a range of fundraising ideas of which many are perfectly relatable to organisations with employees WFH. Click here to find out more.


Take Action, Get Active 30 minutes a day, your way. Get active and explore nature, whilst raising vital funds for the Mental Health Foundation. Fundraising throughout May – There is still time available. Find out more


The WFH Zone is the UK’s first online portal designed to assist organisations and individuals in the process of setting up to work from home (WFH) on a full time or hybrid basis, in the most cost effective and ethical way. Our service helps employers and employees find quality suppliers of a range of Services and Products specifically associated with a work from home zone.