May Is Mental Health Month. Are You Checking in with Friends, Coworkers and Family Members?

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis has impacted not only the physical health but the mental health of people around the world.

Here at Intelex, we focus a lot on occupational safety and health. What goes unsaid is that mental health is just as essential to workplace safety as safety management systems and personal protective equipment. Now more than ever, people are feeling disconnected from friends, family and coworkers. The COVID-19 pandemic not only has negatively impacted mental health for many people, it has created barriers to treatment.

Millions of adults and children around the world experience mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to a statement released by the White House, nearly one in five Americans – some 52 million adults – lives with a mental health condition.

“Those living with mental health conditions are our family, friends, classmates, neighbors and coworkers,” said U.S. President Joe Biden, adding, “While our nation has made progress in promoting mental health services, many communities face pervasive barriers in accessing mental health care.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis has impacted not only the physical health but the mental health of people around the world. Isolation, sickness, grief, job loss, food instability and the loss of routines such as attending school or work or visiting family members has increased the need for mental health services. Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that one in four adults reported experiencing symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder in February 2021 — a significant increase from the prior year. Youth mental health is also worsening, with nearly 10 percent of America’s youth reporting severe depression.

“Too many people with mental health needs feel they have nowhere to turn,” said Biden in a statement. “Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death for our nation’s youth today. Suicide rates are disproportionately high among Black youth, and LGBTQI+ persons are at disproportionate risk of death by suicide as well as suicidal ideation, planning and attempts.”

Immediate assistance is available for those in need of help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or by calling 1-800-662-HELP. 

Mental Health Toolkit: Supporting Employee Success

Even people who have not been diagnosed with a mental illness complain of experiencing exhaustion, mental “fogginess” and irritability, said Dr. Kali Cyrus in an interview with NPR. She said patients are telling her that they are making mistakes at work, and that it’s hard to even get out of bed.

“I’m going to bed earlier. It’s hard to even get out of bed,” Cyrus, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, told NPR reporter Rhitu Chatterjee. “I don’t feel like being active again.”

Cyrus and other mental health professions believe that the cause of exhaustion, brain fog and other symptoms likely is the stress and trauma caused by the last year. Hopefully, as the pandemic winds down, so will those symptoms for many people who are suffering from them.

More serious though are the longer-term mental health issues affecting many workers today, it’s critical for organizations to develop effective workplace plans for their employees. Designed to identify physical, mental and environmental stressors and create a safe, collaborative and productive work environment, these plans are a win-win for both employees and employers.   

Jumpstart the process by downloading our guide, “Supporting Employee Success,” where you will learn:

  1. The list of job expectations that the employer, employee and the trusted advisor should reach alignment on
  2. The main resources that employees can leverage to help perform their duties effectively
  3. The importance of having success-planning conversations

With anxiety and depression rates skyrocketing during the current COVID-19 crisis, employee mental health has become a key concern and top priority for most employers. Affecting work performance, relationships and communication levels, mental health issues often can have negative impacts on daily functioning and can lead to increased substance abuse. 

To help you address these issues with employees, we’ve put together a checklist, “Action Steps Employers and Employees Can Take to Help Reduce the Impact of Mental Health Concerns in the Workplace.” Specifically, you will learn:

  1. Six types of stress that workers might be experiencing
  2. Key assessment tools, training and health-related screenings employers can offer
  3. The different ways employees can take care of their physical and emotional health 
This entry was posted in EHSQ and tagged , , by Sandy Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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