With the COVID‑19 pandemic affecting virtually every area of our lives, it’s critical to pay attention to our mental health. According to a recent survey conducted by Statistics Canada, 81% of Canadians feel that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health. Respondents reported increased feelings of anxiety, helplessness, and isolation, as well as reduced feelings of optimism. Furthermore, the study found that 67% of Canadians believe that it will get worse before it gets better.
Employees’ mental health is not only an integral part of their overall wellness, but it also plays a significant role in how effectively they work. As such, it’s more important than ever for employers to understand what mental health challenges your employees are facing and put strategies and concrete measures in place to help them.
What are Canadians anxious about?
In addition to fears of the COVID-19 disease itself, the pandemic’s long-reaching ramifications are causing people to feel anxious about many different areas of their lives.
Fifty-six percent of Canadians say that the pandemic has negatively impacted their household income due to reduced hours or job loss. Additionally, another 10% believe their finances will be negatively impacted in the future.
Nobody knows for sure how long the pandemic will last, when things will go back to “normal”, and what the new “normal” will look like. Additionally, fears of a second wave mean that many people may continue to have heightened anxiety even after things begin to settle down.
Being isolated for long periods can increase feelings of loneliness and helplessness. Many people are no longer able to enjoy their hobbies or the company of loved ones—both of which may have been fundamental to their mental well-being.
How you can help
One of the best ways to address employees’ mental health is by offering and encouraging the use of mental health services. Human Resources departments can develop a list of mental health services that can be utilized during the pandemic and share it with employees. They can also help the organization develop policies and practices that enable the use of mental health resources.
If you offer an employee and family assistance program through your benefits plan, remind your employees of this resource and how to access it. Many providers have created COVID-19 specific content that could be helpful for those struggling at this time.
Educating employees on the importance of mental health and providing resources to help them manage it (e.g., through meditation and exercise) can also be beneficial. Additionally, focusing on output instead of hours worked can be especially helpful for employees who must care for children or other family members during this challenging time.
Finally, encouraging managers to check in with their teams and plan appropriate social events like virtual happy hours can help reduce feelings of isolation and strengthen teams as a whole.
As a trusted business partner, our team of benefits consultants can recommend solutions to meet your unique needs to help improve the overall well-being of your employees. Contact us today to learn more.