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With the beginning of 2021, many employees are challenged with working and living in a pandemic during a Canadian winter. They’re figuring out how to cope with associated uncertainties like maintaining stable employment and financial health during a period of economic downturn.
Employers have their challenges: figuring out how to be financially viable and competitive and to retain a motivated and healthy workforce.
Though 2020 brought many hardships and challenges, there are some silver linings, such as reimagining how work can get done, advancements in technology, easier access to medical professionals, and increased awareness and appreciation for the importance of supporting employees’ mental health and to feel socially connected.
However, for the average employee and employer, there are pending challenges that will require attention, energy, and hope to get through 2021. The vaccine is a beacon of hope but even after it has been administered to all Canadians, the full impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy and citizens’ mental health will not be fully understood. There is a high probability that like all previous natural disasters and the post-war era there will be negative after-effects that should not be minimized by employers. They will be wise to prepare and expect in the coming months and years to be faced with numerous challenges, one major one being employees’ mental health. We refer to this period as the Mental Health Danger Zone.
Reducing the impact of the Mental Health Danger Zone requires intention — what employers can do to mitigate the risk of employees experiencing mental harm and to promote their mental health.
Employee and family assistance programs, cognitive behavioural therapy solutions, and benefits plans that fund psychologist visits can be helpful for the small percentage of the workforce experiencing mental health concerns and choosing to seek help. However, they do nothing to proactively support all employees to reduce mental harm and promote mental health.
Our approach is focused on prevention. For example, if we know someone may drown, we can reduce their risk by teaching them to swim. If we know the future is going to be riddled with challenges and stress, we can reduce mental illness and addictions in the workplace by supporting cultures, leaders, and employees to obtain the knowledge and skills needed to reduce the number of employees entering the Mental Health Danger Zone.
Ten actions leaders can take in 2021 to mitigate employees’ risk of entering the mental health danger zone:
Want to join the conversation? Tell us your story about mental health in the workplace by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does your organization require training or tools to better support mental health in-house? Contact us to discuss your unique challenges and to arrange a free demo to learn how our integrated services can help.
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