COVID-19, and the overwhelming issues that it brings with it, continues to cause major anxiety to Filipinos—from the exponential daily report of confirmed cases, to the divided public opinion on the government’s response.
With the national government officially extending the enhanced community quarantine until April 30, 2020, and the mass testing (that will significantly increase confirmed cases) set for next week, Filipinos are more anxious than ever.
As employers, it is part of your responsibility to keep your employees’ mental health in check, especially during a crisis like this. Poor mental health hinders their ability to work which will negatively impact how your business continues its operations. After all, it is one thing to work from home on regular days, and another to be forced to stay at home and work during a pandemic.
Here’s how you can support your employees’ mental health:
Normalize mental health issues in your company
The primary step you should take is to acknowledge to all of your employees that being anxious and depressed during this pandemic is a normal human reaction. Discuss it via announcements on your general communication channel.
Normalizing mental health issues in your company gives your employees the confidence to address it professionally and erase fears of discrimination.
You must also reassure your employees that your HR department is open to discussing work-related mental health problems. You can assign people in your department that will be dedicated to talking to your employees regarding these problems and providing empathetic solutions.
Research has shown that social isolation can increase symptoms of mental illness like depression and anxiety. Some of your employees are living alone, and others that are living with their families or partners are still vulnerable to feeling isolated.
Staying connected with your employees might help ease the anxiety and depression caused by social isolation.
Aside from communicating via email, chats, or calls, you must advise teams to regularly meet via video conferences to mimic a more genuine interaction. There are a lot of reliable software you can utilize, such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Skype, etc. This helps your employees to feel more connected to their colleagues and maintain a sense of belongingness.
During these meetings, advise team leaders to ask each member how he/she is doing before discussing more professional matters.
You can also set up a channel in your communication medium where employees can share how they are personally coping, such as recommending movies/series, recipes, home workouts, music, books, etc.
Conduct a mental health webinar
It is extremely important to engage your employees with an in-depth discussion on mental health, but most HR professionals don’t specialize in this field.
If your company doesn’t already have one, you can outsource a professional that can credibly educate your employees on how to manage their mental health during this pandemic via webinars. Webinars are especially helpful in this time, and a lot of local health organizations are already offering this kind of service. Lessons conducted by an established expert also tend to be taken more seriously by its audiences.
Encourage seeking professional help
Finally, if you have employees who continue to struggle with managing their mental health, encourage them to seek professional help. Psychological organizations have started to offer their therapy sessions online or via phone. The Department of Health, for example, has a National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) hotline: 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 989-USAP 98727). Research and recommend counseling service providers that you think would be best helpful to your employees.
You may also want to consider granting mental health leave/s for special cases.
You should continue to take these initiatives to ensure the overall wellness of your employees, especially during this crisis where physical health is emphasized while mental health is overlooked.
- Baska, M. (2020, Match 31). Employers must step up mental health support during coronavirus crisis, CIPD says.
- Gympass (2020). 5 Ways HR Can Be Proactive About Employee Mental Health During COVID-19.
- Cassidy, F. (2020, April 7). 5 ways leaders can help employees during COVID-19.
- Fallin, D. (2020, April 4). Managing and understanding mental health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Umil, A. (2020, 22 March). Caring for your mental health in the time of COVID-19.