How the country could be hit by a mental health 'pandemic' as restrictions lift

The country could be hit by a second ‘pandemic’ in the shape of a mental health crisis, a leading mental health campaigner and lawyer has warned.

Ian McCann says "if the first pandemic was coronavirus, I think the second pandemic is going to be a mental health challenge".

Ian McCann, founder of Leeds-based Legal Studios, has spoken openly about his own mental health challenges in the past.

He said: “If the first pandemic was coronavirus, I think the second pandemic is going to be a mental health challenge caused not just by lockdown but by some of the working and living conditions that people have been subject to, and losing this line between work and home.”

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He set up his own business to provide lawyers with greater control over their own lives and careers.

Caroline Turner says businesses should get those who are neurodivergent on board with any changes.

Mr McCann, who is autistic, said businesses should manage returning staff to offices carefully, ensuring that they have good clear communication with their employees.

“It’s a massive opportunity both for resetting what office space work looks like, but also for what work in general looks like,” he added.

Mr McCann admits to fearing a return to the old normal, and said: “I understand people wanting to get back to normal.

“However, with that people forget the stresses and pressures of the modern world of work and modern life prior to the pandemic were extraordinary.

“We’d never had such levels of challenges with people’s mental health, we never had such levels of anxiety.”

The lawyer added that the idea of losing gains such as the understanding that flexible and remote working can work makes him “quite upset”.

The York-based training and consultancy business, Creased Puddle, has put together a ‘Returning to Work’ document to help those who are neuro-diverse return to an office environment.

The sudden change to home working had an impact for people that are autistic and any new changes must be managed carefully, Caroline Turner, the founder of Creased Puddle, said.

“Everybody manages change differently but certainly people who are autistic and ADHD to some extent really depend on routine and the predictability of work,” she added.

Ms Turner added that businesses should get those who are neurodivergent on board with any changes.

She also advised firms to look to make reasonable adjustments to make any transition smoother.

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