May of 2020 brings a different feeling to Mental Health Awareness Month. Many individuals are suffering from increased anxiety, stress, and depression as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis. These conditions are difficult enough to cope with at any time, let alone in isolation.
Mental health plays a large role in overall health and well-being. It encompasses emotional, psychological, and social behavior. It impacts how we think, feel, interact with others, handle stress, and make decisions, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Now, more than ever, it is important to come together as a community to support one another during this uncertain time. By being aware, supportive, and understanding, we can cultivate a healthy remote-work culture where positive mental health is achieved.
How is mental health being impacted by the COVID–19 pandemic?
A recent study found that Americans are worried about the economic impacts coronavirus may have on their lives in the future.
- 59% report being worried that their investments will be negatively impacted for a long time.
- 52% report being worried they will lose their job.
- 45% report being worried they will lose income due to a workplace closure or reduced hours.
- 53% report being worried that they or a family member will become sick from coronavirus.
Job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem. These conditions may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide, claims a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report.
Resources for maintaining positive mental health and well-being
Talk with a therapist – If your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), take advantage of it. This benefit was created for you to utilize. If your employer doesn’t offer an EAP, there are numerous organizations that are offering free or discounted services to help people cope during this time:
Join a support group – Talking with people who are in a similar situation can help lessen feelings of isolation. Many online support groups were created to help individuals overcome anxiety, depression, and substance abuse in response to COVID-19:
Practice mindfulness – Engaging in mindfulness activities can help release built-up anxiety and stress. Journaling, meditation, and reflection are great contributors toward achieving positive mental health.
- Start a gratitude journal: write down 5 things you are grateful for first thing in the morning or as you’re winding down before bed.
- Meditate 10 minutes each day. Apps such as Headspace and Simple Habit are offing free or discounted guided sessions.
Employers, you play a critical role – Be understanding and practice compassion. If an employee is having a hard time and needs to take an extended lunch hour or log off early for the day, allow them to do so, suggested Cindy Bjorkquist, director of well-being for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in a recent Tele-Town Hall discussion. Truly listen to your team’s words and actions and provide guidance when needed. Your employees may be struggling during this time.
Mental Health Benefits for Blue Cross Blue Shield Members
- $0 virtual therapy visits through Blue Cross Online Visits
- 24-hour mental health crisis hotline: 1-800-482-5982
- myStrength COVID-19 and Mental Wellness program
- Live weekly Blue Cross Virtual Well-Being webinars (available to non-members as well)
By utilizing available resources and encouraging coworkers to do the same, you can improve the mental health and well-being of your community from the comfort of your home.