Monday, September 14, 2020

COVID-19 and mental health challenges in the workplace

3 min read
Written by

Feel Therapeutics

Mental health conditions are one of the biggest causes of long-term absenteeism at work. Depression is the number one cause of disability worldwide, accounting for up to 400 million lost workdays per year with an estimated cost to the global economy of US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity.

Businesses cannot afford to ignore mental health anymore because it costs them both time and money. People with mental health conditions, on average, made six times more emergency room visits and, consequently, four times more medical claims compared to people without a mental health diagnosis. Additionally, there is also a cost to productivity and effectiveness, as many people choose to carry on working rather than taking time off.

Anxiety about the Covid-19 pandemic drives deterioration of mental health, loss of motivation and productivity. A study by Feel revealed a 200% increase in negative emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which shows how mental health was affected.

However, post-pandemic this does not mean that these mental health issues will be permanent or even severe enough to be substantially limiting for people. It just means that some everyday life or work activities may be more time-consuming or difficult for some compared to others.

What needs to change?

The workplace needs to change and adapt quickly, both to the ongoing COVID-19 threat and how businesses tackle mental health within the workplace.

A Thrive Global report, ‘Thriving in the new normal’, found that nearly 90% of employees surveyed felt that employers needed to be doing more to address concerns and challenges surrounding COVID-19. Specifically, providing more resources to tackle: stress management and resilience, managing the ‘work-from-home’ environment, and maintaining performance and productivity.

The productivity and mental well-being of employees depends on the way they’re treated and managed regularly and defines the level of trust they put in the employment relationship.

Employers have a unique opportunity to create a workplace culture that destigmatizes mental health, and communicates clearly that mental health issues are common and that it does not make an employee incapable.

They can begin by creating a culture of openness and raising awareness about mental health problems and continue with making sure that the right resources and channels are in place. On a larger scale, according to HR Magazine (2016): “this means fostering and maintaining a supportive workplace culture and understanding, and helping all employees to feel accepted wherever they work in the organization and whatever their background”.

How Feel is supporting businesses tackle mental health in the workplace

Employees will face both challenges and concerns when they return to the workplace, including heightened stress and anxiety regarding their health and their jobs.

Employers need to create a safe, productive work environment that both address their employees’ concerns and maintain their morale, motivation, and productivity.

To act responsibly and stay loyal to our mission to remove the suffering caused by mental health for as many people as possible, we are offering free mental health support programs to businesses and non-profits during coronavirus

Feel Relief is a 4-week online mental health support program designed to help people improve their mental wellbeing during difficult times. It includes weekly online sessions with qualified coaches, access to mental health resources and the Feel app to journal emotions. Our program was created as part of our efforts to develop digital biomarkers and therapeutics to bring objective, passive, and continuous measurement and data to reinvent the way we diagnose, manage, and care for mental health.

Click here to apply to get free access to our Feel Relief Program for 30 members of your team.

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