for better mental health

Coping with redundancy during the pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak is putting huge financial pressures on our workforce and many organisations are facing very difficult decisions related to staffing. Even with support measures in place from the Government, like the Job Retention Scheme, some industries have ceased operations altogether while others cannot retain staff on a long-term basis due to financial issues.

Whether expected or sudden, redundancy can cause huge uncertainty, stress and anxiety, and can make existing mental health problems worse. We’ve put together some ways to look after your mental health during the redundancy process.

Know your rights

If you are made redundant, it’s important to know your rights. You can only be chosen for redundancy fairly ⁠— never based on your age, gender, disability or mental health status, if this is something you have disclosed with your employer. If you’re legally classed as an employee and have over two years’ service, you have rights related to redundancy and unfair dismissal. Check out ACAS’ information on redundancy and rights.

More information on your rights at work

Take stock of how you’re feeling

Take stock of how you’re feeling

Losing a job is a huge adjustment and it’s normal to experience a range of emotions. We may feel shock, anger, resentment, relief and much more all in a short period of time.

Make sure you give yourself space and time to express these feelings, and talk to other people about what you are experiencing. Being made redundant during the pandemic is nothing to be ashamed of; you are not to blame for this turn of events and having some social support during this time can help you cope.

Being out of work can have a big impact on your self-esteem and sense of identity. If your job has always been a big part of your life you may wonder who you are without it. Be kind to yourself during this difficult time and use it as a chance to reflect on what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Perhaps you could write a list of all the skills and qualities you have, and take a moment celebrate to them.

If you need help with your mental health during this time, take a look at our A-Z of mental health to help you get started.

Manage your money

If you are made redundant, your finances are probably one of the first practical things you’ll be thinking about, and we know money can be a huge source of stress and worry. Money and mental health are often linked. When we’re struggling with our mental health it can be hard to manage our finances, and if we’re worried about money it can make our mental health worse.

Creating a budget can be a good first step if you’re not sure where to start – the Money Advice Service can help with this. Some people may find it helpful to choose a regular time each week to look at bills and other spending to stop things piling up, or only withdrawing the amount of money you intend to spend each week.

For more information on money and mental health, and a list of organisations who can help, visit our Money and Mental Health pages.

Coping with uncertainty

Redundancy can lead to lots of worries about the future and the pandemic feels very unpredictable right now. If you’re struggling with feelings of uncertainty, try to focus on the things you can control. You may not be able to get your old job back, but you can spend some time polishing your CV and reaching out to your old contacts. We don’t know when the pandemic will end but you can continue to follow public health advice to help keep you and your family safe.

By accepting the things we can’t control, we can start to focus our energy on the things we can.

Keep busy, or take some time off

Adjusting to a change of routine following redundancy can be difficult, but coping with this change during the coronavirus outbreak can be even more challenging. It’s likely you’ll be spending a lot more time at home than you usually would and you may wonder how to fill your time if you aren’t in a position to find another job.

If you’re someone who prefers to keep your brain stimulated and challenged, why not listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles? You could also consider volunteering or learning a new skill. Depending on your trade, now might not be the ideal time to find a new job, but keeping yourself focused and setting yourself challenges can help to improve your self-esteem for when the right role comes up. FutureLearn and OpenLearn have free online courses you could try.

If you need some time out to relax and unwind, then do use the lockdown period as an opportunity to prioritise self-care. You deserve it. Things like yoga, colouring and DIY can be a great way to switch off, as can tidying – why not have a spring clean? You could also have a digital clear out. Delete any old files and apps you don't use, upgrade your software, or clear out your inboxes. Just make sure that you aren’t keeping frantically busy as a way of avoiding your feelings.

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