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Tips to Handle Mental Health During a Crisis

Businesses can have a significant impact on the mental health of their employees—especially during times of crisis. But education is needed. We must raise awareness that mental health conditions are not the result of weakness, character, or upbringing. It is important to end the stigma around mental health, so people feel comfortable seeking care.
May 14, 2020 | Business
By: Dana B
Dana came to Acuity in 2016 as a workers' compensation adjuster, where she focused on handling minor to catastrophic claims in multiple jurisdictions. She also has a background in the services industry, with experience in project management and cosmetology. She graduated with a degree in community engagement and education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and serves on the Board of Directors of Mental Health America in Sheboygan County. Outside of work and volunteering, Dana loves spending time with her daughters, cooking, and practicing yoga.

Author of Services & Retail Focus

Businesses can have a significant impact on the mental health of their employees—especially during times of crisis. But education is needed. We must raise awareness that mental health conditions are not the result of weakness, character, or upbringing. It is important to end the stigma around mental health, so people feel comfortable seeking care.

 

Because mental health issues can be worsened by isolation, it is important now more than ever to focus on mental wellness. Show care for your employees by addressing ways to protect their mental health and educating them on how mental health struggles can affect behavior, emotion, and thinking. Here are some ways to support your employees’ mental wellness during these trying times:

 

  • Acknowledge anxiety and recognize that this is a difficult time. The pressure of trying to conduct business as usual when it clearly is not can affect the mental wellness of employees.
  • Suggest rituals or schedules. Structure can provide a sense of stability, which is even more critical during times of crisis or added stress. Many people are taking on additional roles, such as working while trying to homeschool their children. It can be helpful to start the day with a morning ritual.
  • Encourage employees who are working from home to instill pieces of normalcy where they can:
    • Dress in normal work clothes.
    • It's easy to work around the clock when working from home. Create a dedicated workspace if possible and try to set boundaries for work time and off-work time.
    • Schedule time for breaks and consider a virtual coffee break or walk with coworkers.
    • Mimic the social interactions that would take place at work, virtually. Not being able to see colleagues can be difficult and especially isolating for those who already face mental health challenges.
    • Practice little acts of self-care throughout the day, such as stretch breaks or a walk at lunch. If children are at home, include them too.
  • Encourage laughter and a sense of community. Send regular emails that encourage light-heartedness or highlight acts of altruism.
  • Promote physical activity through virtual exercise groups. It is well known that exercise improves mood.  
  • Encourage the use of video chat instead of just emails, IM, and audio.
  • Provide tips for increased mindfulness. Check out our blog about mindfulness in the workplace.

 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides a thorough guide to help the general public during this difficult time. Encourage employees to utilize resources like this as well as employee assistance programs or other resources your business might provide. Utilization rates of employee assistance programs (EAPs) are low, so providing reminders of where to go for help in times of crisis is critically important. The average person waits nearly a decade to get help with a  mental health condition, and 8 out of 10 report not seeking treatment due to the stigma surrounding mental health.  

 

During a time of crisis, it is common for everyone to experience heightened levels of distress and anxiety. Strive to create a culture where seeking assistance for a mental health challenge is as routine as getting help for any other concern. Promote balance and provide flexibility and support when possible. Consider this a time of physical—not social—distancing. Continue to communicate values that include respect and a general philosophy of wellness to inspire empathetic behaviors across the business.

 

Sources: 

By: Dana B
Dana came to Acuity in 2016 as a workers' compensation adjuster, where she focused on handling minor to catastrophic claims in multiple jurisdictions. She also has a background in the services industry, with experience in project management and cosmetology. She graduated with a degree in community engagement and education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and serves on the Board of Directors of Mental Health America in Sheboygan County. Outside of work and volunteering, Dana loves spending time with her daughters, cooking, and practicing yoga.

Author of Services & Retail Focus