Keeping your mental balance in lockdown

By 22 May 2020 Comment

Mental health is a vital part of health and safety at work and at home. For Mental Health Awareness Week, we invited members of the Nuclear AMRC team to talk about what they’re doing to keep their balance during the Covid-19 crisis.


Wendy Moreman, customer services administrator, has been locked down with husband Geoff, an advanced machine tool operator:

Geoff and I both work at Nuclear AMRC, but sitting across from one another on the dining room table has been very strange. Compromise and organisation have been key.

We do make sure our laptops are put away at the end of each day to keep that work-life balance.

Geoff has a hands-on job in the machining department, and has struggled to sit in front of his laptop all day. Geoff’s outlet is cycling, and he jumped at the chance to return to work this week.

I personally miss human interaction and look forward to our daily team calls, and have loved seeing everyone on the company quiz.

We have both learnt how to use technology to keep in touch with our family, which has been invaluable – I just wish someone would come up with a way to have a virtual cuddle.


David Anson, project manager and principal engineer, volunteered to provide vital support to the NHS:

When the coronavirus situation was starting to get serious in late March and there was an increasing call for volunteers to come forward and help with all sorts of situations, I started to think on where I could do my bit.

As an extrovert, I knew it would have to be away from my house as it might be the only way I could physically interact with people. I know how difficult it is for my mental health working at home all the time, because I lived like that for over 15 years running my own business which was entirely home-based – the isolation was unbearable.

I am a keen motorcyclist and an IAM advanced rider. For a long time, I have been interested in the work of the blood bike charities. To be a volunteer you must be an IAM or RoSPA advanced rider, and also need hepatitis B vaccination. Fortunately, I have the latter due to my time in the police.

Once a fortnight, I have the bike parked on my drive between 7pm and 7am. At any point in the night, I can be called out to transport blood, samples, documents, medication – usually from one of the central Sheffield hospitals to the labs at Northern General.

The work that the charity undertakes saves the NHS significant amounts of money. Getting out of the house and riding a nice motorbike always boosts my mental wellbeing, and there is the added advantage of knowing I am making a difference.


Research engineer Adam Race is volunteering with vulnerable veterans:

It was quite overwhelming at the beginning of the crisis, and working from home quickly became the new norm. My fiancé and I both embraced the isolation culture and took part in quizzes and watching theatre shows and live gigs on YouTube.

Unfortunately, we had to cancel our wedding, which to most people is a huge deal – however, considering other peoples circumstances, we were pretty much over it in a day.

From the first few weeks, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky we were and that there were other people a lot worse off than us. This got me thinking about what I can do and how I could help vulnerable people during this crisis.

The Royal Air Force Association is a charity that looks after the whole RAF family, and I received emails from them due to my time in the RAF. I looked at how I could help, and before I knew it I had signed up for Project Bag Drop.

This provides vital provisions to the doorsteps of the most vulnerable members of the RAF community when their need is critical and desperate. I have only carried out a few bag drops, but even if I had only delivered one I would still be making a difference.

I have dropped off bags to some people who are clearly being affected by the current pandemic, and it has given me some perspective. Having conversations with vulnerable people has helped their mental health, but has also improved mine.

Witnessing the resolve of people in this crisis gives me hope that we will get through this one way or another.


Business development manager Phil Monks has learned to adapt to remote networking:

I am, like most of us, finding the situation strange and sometimes difficult. In my role, I am based at home anyway, so the move to a home office was no problem at all in that respect. I was surprised how, over the weeks, having only one place of work made such a difference.

I find Mondays are probably a little more challenging than other days. The first day of the week, and I am back in the same room, with the same surroundings staring at the same screen – Groundhog Day! It seems to improve through the week, in particular when I have had a productive week.

When I started the lockdown, my plan for all this extra time was that I would catch up on all the important but non-urgent work I had not got round to. But it has been (thankfully in retrospect) extremely busy – perhaps it’s everyone out there catching up with their important but non-urgent projects!

As a business development manager, I enjoy interaction with people, and this is most satisfying face-to-face in meetings, conferences and at networking events. I like meeting people and getting to know them and solving their work problems – it’s what I do.

I am not sure how long it will be before this starts again, but I do suspect the result of the lockdown will be more videoconferencing and less face-to-face contact.

I have two teenage daughters at home and my lovely wife. I spend time walking and on my bike, sometimes with them but mostly on my own – a good time to reflect. I do most of the cooking in the house, and this is what has kept me going.

Keep safe and remember to smile, be patient, and tackle everything in good humour.