Health services company Cigna Europe is launching a 'Check In’ initiative including a series of tools and how-to-guides to help Brits and UK employers support each other during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
The new campaign, which is being supported by former Special Forces solider and Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins Officer, Ollie Ollerton, encourages the public to perform ‘Stress Care Check-ins’, while raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of stress to help others provide support. It will also educate company leaders and HR Directors on how to support employees’ mental health and well-being and encourage a ‘check-in’ culture in their team.
The launch of the campaign follows new figures from Cigna’s COVID-19 Global Impact Study. Since the initial phases of the pandemic, Cigna commissioned global research to more deeply understand the impact of the virus on the health and well-being of people around the world. Cigna has engaged over 13,000 people across 11 key markets including the United Kingdom, with up to date insights now available for the period between January and June 2020.
The latest research conducted in June found that more than 7 in 10 (73%) people in the UK are currently stressed. Nearly one in three (32%) say finances are the primary cause of stress, followed by family (16%) then health concerns (14%). More than half (51%) have noticed stress symptoms with a spouse or partner, with mental symptoms (32%) being the main indicator, followed by a loss of interest (25%) and productivity/concentration and/or physical symptoms (20%).
The study also found that almost half (48%) of Brits feel that they lack companionship, and, worryingly, 56% feel that no one really knows them well, 28% don’t feel that they have people they can talk to, and almost a quarter (24%) don’t feel there are people they can turn to. Surprisingly, one in five Brits (20%) do not expect life to ever return to normal.
Arjan Toor, CEO, Cigna Europe, said, “COVID-19 has changed the world. Change isn’t always good and is one of the biggest causes of stress. This extraordinary experience continues to impact us in ways we might not even realise, and it’s vital that we recognise the psychological impact this can have. We continue to face anxiety about life after lockdown, continued remote working and the social isolation it brings, not to mention the day-to-day financial worries and stress people have as we navigate our new ‘norm’.
“We have found that checking in with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues has helped stop stress levels from escalating during the crisis. Our ‘check-in’ hacks will help educate and empower Brits on how to spot the signs if someone is needing support and teach them basic techniques to help one another. Cigna is committed to protecting the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of those we serve, and would urge people and businesses to treat this as seriously as they would basic first aid or mental health first aid and adopt a ‘Stress Care Check-in as company practice going forward.”
Ollie Ollerton added, “Being in lockdown and experiencing isolation for long periods of time can have a negative impact on people’s mental health. When I left the Special Forces, my normal structures and support mechanisms disappeared. That is similar to what is happening at the moment. The unpredictability of the situation can add more stress, which can be scary.
“I’ve had to dig deep over the years and keep going through many stressful and extremely challenging situations. Helping people to find a purpose and visualise an outcome can really help them overcome their own battle. We all have a responsibility to check in with our friends, colleagues and loved ones, and I would urge everyone to take time out of their day to check-in with at least one person close to them. We need to do all we can to protect each other.”
Dr. Peter Mills, Cigna Europe’s in-house medical expert, shares his top four tips for incorporating check-ins into people’s daily routine.
- Warm-up – talk about lighter topics and gradually start going deeper. Being open about your own experiences is a great way of starting conversations
- Ask Open-ended Questions – ask non-invasive questions that help guide the person towards finding potential solutions to their issue
- Listen actively – give full focus on what the person is saying – actually talk about how they’re coping
- Be non-judgmental – avoid responses such as ‘You’re just having a bad week’ or ‘I’m sure it’s nothing’. Be non-judgmental and take them seriously
Cigna has created a range of how-to-tips, best practice toolkits and expert advice from its in-house medical team to help businesses introduce a company-wide check-in culture available here.
For further information about the campaign, please visit https://comms.cigna.com/checkin-uk.
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