Facing the mental health challenges of COVID-19

The Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal

Holly Schroeder

President & CEO of SCVEDC

The COVID-19 pandemic public health orders designed to protect our physical health have also affected mental health. In fact, 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from 1 in 10 adults from January to June 2019.

To complicate matters, people are often reluctant to discuss mental illness — especially at work. That’s why it’s critical for employers to create a work environment that is supportive of mental health, with relevant resources and a culture that prioritizes psychological well-being.

There are several ways you can support your employees’ mental well-being.

  1. Speak candidly about mental health. Talking about it openly and without shame will help others realize they are not alone.
  2. Keep the conversation going. Workplace culture must be nurtured. Create opportunities to incorporate the topic of mental health and provide a culture of open communication for your employees.
  3. Include all levels of staff. Every manager and executive should align in demonstrating genuine care for their employees’ well-being and importance of mental health.
  4. Encourage mental health days off. Part of preventative health involves allowing your staff time to take a break, which can help them stave off more serious health issues down the road.
  5. Pay attention and be ready to help. If you notice an employee behaving differently (ex: irritably, anxiety), talk with them. Remind them you are there to help and that they have access to assistive resources.
  6. Make sure the resources are relevant. Frequently audit your mental health resources making sure they are accurate and up to date.
  7. Prioritize confidentiality and anonymity. Many are uncomfortable discussing their personal issues, particularly if they struggle with addiction, trauma, or suicidal thoughts. Reassure your staff that their privacy is your top concern and use of mental health resources will never be monitored or tracked.
  8. Focus on the positive. Mental illness is a serious issue, but it can still be addressed in a way that makes people feel understood and hopeful. Always remember to leave your employees feeling like they have a clear plan of action ahead and that they or their loved ones can get well.

Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you and your employees become more resilient.

For more information, contact the SCVEDC at SCVEDC.org or call (661) 288-4400.

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