COVID-19 has its own set of physical symptoms, but with 1 in 5 Americans suffering from some form of mental illness, this period of uncertainty is not the time to let mental health take a back seat.
A recent study shows that nearly 7 in 10 employees report that the COVID-19 pandemic is the most stressful time of their entire professional career. These high stress levels are reflected in the increase of prescriptions filled in mid-March with 78% of all anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-insomnia prescriptions being filled as new prescriptions.
Your people are all feeling various stress levels and experiencing the virus through different lenses. Whether your employees are frontline workers or working from home, all of your employees will need support and access to mental health resources.
The people in your HR department are humans too and may have had their personal lives impacted. HR has the job to manage and provide support to its people, but employees need to remember that the vast majority of HR professionals are not licensed therapists. However, HR can play a significant role to ensure employees have access to information and resources by:
- Keeping Communication Lines Open
Staying connected is not just important to help with trying to keep a business operational, but it’s also a way to check in on your people, provide updates on the status of the organization, and reassure your people that everything is going to be okay. A survey-approach is an excellent opportunity to get a pulse on your people and receive feedback on how the organization is handling the pandemic and identify any areas for improvement.
- Sharing Updates to Health Plan Info
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, many health insurance providers have implemented emergency programs, waived co-pays, and extended coverage. It’s important for HR to research what health insurance providers are doing and to pass this information along to employees in an easy to understand format. Here’s a comprehensive list of health insurance providers and what action they're taking.
- Coordinating Employer Assistance Program (EAP)- HR will need to coordinate support for their employees. EAPs are commonly in place to help employees resolve personal life challenges that directly impact employee performance, but many EAPs now extend to cover other services such as behavioral health. Remind your people that an EAP is there to provide support to your people.
There are a lot of resources out there to support employee mental health, as we navigate these uncharted waters. Mental Health America (MHA) has put together a great page with links to a wide variety of resources.
Please check out MHA’s page or see below for some helpful resources to share with your employees.
- Living With Mental Illness During COVID-19 Outbreak– Preparing For Your Wellness
- Medication Access During COVID-19
- Coronavirus Anxiety—Helpful Expert Tips and Resources
- COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders
- Frequently Asked Questions on Mental Health, Mental Illness, and COVID-19
- Managing Stress and Anxiety related to COVID-19
- Protecting Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- When Home Becomes The Workplace: Mental Health And Remote Work