We have all heard the staggering statistics around the rise in mental health issues over the last 18 months as the world and the people who populate it struggle through COVID. The coronavirus (COVID‐19) pandemic’s impact on mental health (nih.gov). The pandemic is not just a medical phenomenon; it affects individuals and society and causes disruption, anxiety, depression, stress, stigma, and xenophobia. Quarantine and self‐isolation can most likely cause a negative impact on one’s mental health. A review published in The Lancet said that separation from loved ones, loss of freedom, boredom, and uncertainty can cause a deterioration in an individual’s mental health status. Patients with mental health disorders in the COVID-19 epidemic (nih.gov). Whether your workplace is your kitchen table or your high-rise office, the fact of the matter is that most of us spend the majority of our waking hours “at work”. Employers, therefore, have an obligation and a societal duty to offer solutions to this ever-growing mental health crisis.
Never has the focus on employee well-being been so critically important and been quite as honestly the difference between life and death. The Impact Of Covid-19 On Suicide Rates (psycom.net). A new report by The Well Being Trust released last month found that 75,000 additional people could die from what they called “deaths of despair,” (which include suicide and substance abuse) because of Covid-19. Suicide is likely to become a more pressing concern as the pandemic spreads and has longer-term effects on the general population, the economy, and vulnerable groups,” according to David Gunnell, professor of epidemiology at the University of Bristol.
Employers have a responsibility to create robust employee well-being programs and to ensure that they offer something for everyone.
Employees are being told to isolate and many gyms have been shut down for months, leading to a lack of physical exercise and all the added health benefits it brings. The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise – HelpGuide.org That shouldn’t stop you from offering exercise opportunities through programs like Vitality Online Fitness Training | My Vitality Coach. You can run group engagement activities with prizes galore!
Outside of the standard EAP’s which have experienced a jump in employees utilizing their resources, there are also programs like TalkSpace Talkspace – #1 Rated Online Therapy, 1 Million+ Users that offer one-on-one counseling, couples therapy, and Psychiatry, all 100% virtually with licensed practitioners.
Large numbers of employees in the hospitality business sector were impacted by COIVD when restaurants, hotels, and the travel industry literally ground to a halt. While stimulus checks and increases in unemployment staved off starvation, the stress associated with not being able to pay your rent or mortgage and not knowing when you will be employed again is huge. Offer employees the opportunity to engage with a financial coach to understand how to best manage through this difficult time.
We are social creatures by nature and the stress caused by not being able to hug, interact, and see our loved ones and co-workers is tremendous. Consider forming online interest groups that are designed to foster not only an inclusive workplace but to organize learning opportunities and discussions to encourage and elevate open and honest conversations around the topics that matter most. Sometimes just knowing you are not alone, is all that is needed to help you realize that this will eventually pass.
Employers have a unique opportunity to engage with their workforces during this pandemic, to do the right thing, and to come out as a stronger team on the other side!