Mental Health and the Coronavirus at Work
Information and mis-information abounds about the coronavirus. Here are a few ideas and strategies to help you minimise disruption to your workplace.
The outbreak of coronavirus may be stressful for people, workplaces and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease and possible employment/financial impacts can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and workers.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.
There are so many variables that impact a person’s emotional wellbeing but being aware of the signs and symptoms is critical. People can become more distressed if they see repeated images or hear repeated reports about the outbreak in the media.
Reactions during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones who may have been exposed to COVID-19
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans during an emergency and monitor for any new symptoms.
Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover from a disaster. Connect with family, friends, and others in your community. Take care of yourself and each other, and know when and how to seek help. Call your healthcare provider if stress reactions interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row.
Things you can do to support your staff:
- Create clear lines of communication around possible business changes
- Promote self-care strategies, in-house Mental Health First Aiders, EAP
- Conduct mental health literacy courses
- Discuss plans of alternate working arrangements, tasks list during slower periods etc
Things you can do to support yourself:
- Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
- Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
- Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
Adapted from CDC - Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19