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Caring for employees’ mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic

With the world entering a new spell of lockdown, mental health and employee wellbeing have become a huge subject of discussion for organisations as the line between office and home continues to muddle.

Everyone has been affected in a different way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of whether that be acclimating to a new work-life situation, the loss of a job, or loved one, the heaviness of these remarkable occasions can be substantial, and significantly impact our mental health.

In spite of increasing awareness campaigns, people are still hesitant to open up about their mental health issues at their workplace. The risk of losing job makes many feel they should be seen to be NORMAL, despite of feeling otherwise. 2020 was the year when organisations needed to comfort their people that it’s ‘OK not to feel OK’. However, studies suggest a large number of leaders are still failing to lead by example.

Leaders need to adopt approaches to support employees’ mental health and wellbeing that work within our changing work styles. Awareness training and preventative care needs to be high on the leadership priority list in order to build the flexibility needed in such trying times.

Organizations must understand that the mental well-being of the workforce is supreme in nourishing a healthy workplace experience. We know that happy and satisfied employees are fruitful employees, so when preparing the workplace for re-opening, we must focus on fostering an environment where people prosper – regardless of where they perform their tasks. Another reason to take notice of the mental health of employees is that pressure and poor mental health can create problems with employee engagement.

Common work-related factors that can affect mental health during a pandemic:

  1. Concern about the risk of being exposed to the virus at the workplace
  2. Taking care of balancing personal and family requirements while working
  3. Handling a diverse workload
  4. Dearth of access to the tools and resources needed to accomplish your job
  5. Feelings that you are not contributing sufficiently to work or crib about not being on the frontline
  6. Ambiguity about the future of your workplace and/or service
  7. Learning new communication tools and dealing with technical problems
  8. Adjusting to a different workspace and/or work routine

History has shown that the mental health impact of fiascos outlasts the physical impact, proposing today’s increased mental health needs will last well beyond the coronavirus outbreak itself. As policymakers continue to discuss further actions to lessen the loads of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be significant to ponder how the increased need for mental health and substance use services will likely continue long term, even if new cases and deaths emerge due to the novel coronavirus decrease.

Employers are, and will keep on being, on the front lines of the mental health disaster that has been worsened by COVID-19. It is important that employers include in their call to action regarding COVID-19, including “return to workplace” rollouts, a main focus on employee mental health.

So, what is it that managers can do to act as a support system?

Indeed, even in extremely dubious occasions, the job of a supervisor stays as before: to help your colleagues. That incorporates supporting their mental wellness. Fortunately, a large number of tools you need to do so are the same ones that make you a good manager.

  1. Be vulnerable: 

One silver lining of the pandemic is that it is stabilizing mental health problems. Almost everyone has encountered some level of inconvenience. However, the universality of the experience will convert into a decline in stigma or disgrace just if individuals, particularly individuals in power, share their encounters. Speaking the truth about your mental health battles as a pioneer opens the entryway for representatives to feel good conversing with you about emotional well-being difficulties of their own.

  • Offer flexibility and be inclusive:

Anticipate that the circumstance, your group’s necessities, and your own requirements will keep on evolving. Check in frequently – especially at transition points. You can help settle any issues that come up only if you know what’s happening. Those discussions will likewise give a chance to emphasize on norms and practices that support mental health. Inclusive flexibility is about proactive communication and norm-setting that assists individuals with planning and preserving the boundaries they need.

Try not to make assumptions about what your direct reports need; they will no doubt require different things at different times. Take a customized approach to addressing stressors, such as difficulties with childcare or feeling the need to work constantly. Proactively offer suppleness. Be as liberal and realistic as possible. 

  • Invest in trainings: 

Now more than ever, you ought to focus on proactive and preventive workspace mental health training for pioneers, managers, executives and individual contributors. As more and more employees struggle with mental health, it’s imperative to debunk common myths, reduce stigma, and build the necessary skills to have fruitful discussions about mental health at work. With regards to mental health and employee wellbeing, there is no better time than right now to begin. Regardless of whether your organization has one little office or is staffed by a great number of people across different areas, confirming your employees have access to top notch mental health training is vital to their work success.

Compelled to fight with extra stressors while still having to work, many working professionals are facing sudden difficulties with their mental well-being and requiring support while at their jobs. As a result, many employers are now following a changed focus on – or learning how to steer for the first time – the mental well-being of their employees.

Chances are high that almost half of your employees are encountering some mental distress, with less than half of them getting help. Mental health training is a good interventional tool to assist employees spot the warning signs—in themselves and in their clients, peers, or subordinates – so they get the help they need.


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