8 Ways for Employees to Look After Their Mental Health During a Pandemic
By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday April 7, 2020Updated : Monday December 14, 2020
It’s still early days, but experts are already warning that coronavirus (COVID-19) is going to have a significant impact on people’s mental health.
As Canadians try to cope with uncertainty, economic and employment instability, isolation, and the never-ending discussions about COVID-19, it’s becoming increasingly important for employers to prioritize employee mental health.
The Importance of Mental Health
The importance of mental health cannot be overstated. At the employee level, it affects happiness, physical health, productivity, and so much more. At the employer level, poor employee mental health can lead to low job satisfaction, employee engagement, and ultimately hurt profits.
With physical and social distancing measures recommended as the best way to limit the spread of COVID-19, many Canadians are feeling the effects of prolonged isolation. But there are some easy ways employees can improve their mental health during this crisis:
Tip #1: Be social (virtually)!
Keep in touch with friends, family, and coworkers. Recommend playing some fun, collaborative online games in place of movie or board game nights via apps like Houseparty or Jackbox.
Tip #2: Take Breaks
Let’s be honest – in an office environment, employees take regular social breaks, interacting with their colleagues. But when working from home, it’s easy to let the lines between “work time” and “home time” become a bit blurry. Encourage employees to step away from their workstation to grab more coffee or do a quick stretch.
Tip #3: Make time for hobbies
Hobbies can help relax and relieve stress by doing something you enjoy. Whether that’s reading a book, gardening, or going for a run, it’s important for employees to keep up with regular activities.
Tip #4: Get outside!
Encourage employees to walk around the block or even take advantage of the warmer weather and read a book outside.
Tip #5: Communicate
The anxiety and stress of uncertain situations affects people differently. If employees are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, encourage them to speak with family and friends.
Tip #6: Look for opportunities to help!
In times like these, kindness goes a long way. Many cities and workplaces are helping out any way they can – from making hand sanitizer to forming online groups to share resources.
Tip #7: Encourage a break from the news and social media
Taking a break from social media is proven to be good for mental health. Although it’s important to stay informed about what is going on, employees should try and limit the amount of time spent reading about the crisis.
Tip #8: Utilize mental health resources
Depending on their group benefits plan, employees may have access to different resources, such as:
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers help and support to employees through difficult times in their lives. Mental health support is available through professional counselling. For any employees struggling to adapt to these new circumstances, an EAP is one tool employers may have available to help employees cope.
- Telehealth and Virtual Care Services. There are many mental health services available to help employees through difficult times that are available remotely through telehealth options.
If Your Employees are Struggling – You Are Not Alone
If your employees are struggling with their mental health in the wake of this crisis, you and they are not alone. Take care of yourselves and those around you, and consider putting these tips and resources into practice in your day-to-day. Reach out when in need and take advantage of the resources you have available when you can.
Stay safe out there!