With the COVID-19 Omicron variant making gains, provincial alert levels rising, businesses being shuttered temporarily, and schools switching to online learning, Newfoundland & Labradorian’s mental health is more important now than ever. In fact, according to a new survey from Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 81% of Canadians’ mental health is negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents most commonly reported increased feelings of anxiety, helplessness, and isolation, as well as reduced feelings of optimism. From a business perspective, people’s mental health is not only important for their overall wellness, but it also plays a big role in how effective they are at work. As such, it’s more important than ever to maintain your employees’ mental health.
What Are Canadians Anxious About?
In addition to fears of the disease itself, the pandemic’s long-reaching ramifications have people feeling anxious about many different factors at once:
- Financial stressors—56% of Canadians say that their household income has been negatively impacted by the pandemic due to themselves or their partner having hours reduced or eliminated altogether. Additionally, another 10% believe their finances will be impacted in the future.
- Future uncertainty—Nobody knows for sure how much longer the pandemic will last when things will go back to “normal” and what the new “normal” will look like. Furthermore, fears of additional waves or variants mean that many people may continue to have heightened anxiety even after things begin to settle down.
- Isolation—Being isolated for long periods of time 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. HR departments can develop a list of services that can be utilized during the pandemic and share it with employees.
Educating employees on the importance of mental health and providing ideas for how they might be able to manage it without professional assistance (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 the traditional workday.
Furthermore, 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.
Mental Health Resources
If you or someone you know is experiencing a high degree of uncertainty, worry, anxiety, and stress, the following resources may be able to help:
- Bridge the Gapp – If you are finding it difficult to cope or feel anxious, Bridge the Gapp offers many services to support you and your wellbeing.
- Provincial CHANNAL Warm Line – If you are feeling isolated and alone during COVID-19, you are encouraged to reach out and speak with a trained mental health peer supporter – 1-855-753-2560 9:00 am to 12:00 am daily.
- Mental Health Crisis Line – If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call the Mental Health Crisis Line 24 hours a day – 1-888-737-4668