Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we know now that the emotional/mental toll from the past year is far from over. Clinical researchers predict that the repercussions of all that took place in 2020 will be felt in years to come. Prior to the pandemic, more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults suffered from mental health issues. As researchers continue to gather data, and yet still much to be seen, it’s predicted that there’s been a dramatic increase in mental/emotional and drug/alcohol issues. As we wait to see the backlash, it’s up to employers to take a proactive, and one would argue now a reactive, approach to addressing these concerns within a workplace setting. Meaning, taking a deep dive into what is currently being offered to their employees and assessing potential gaps in support and resources being offered.
When you hear the words mental health, what comes to mind? Does your mind go straight to a diagnosis such as ‘Bipolar’ or ‘Depression’? Do you picture someone who’s completely psychotic (insert several T.V. and movie characters)? If so, you’re not alone. Many people, without even knowing it, categorize mental health to the negative attributes surrounding mental illness. Mental health is so much bigger than that. It can’t be characterized by a word or phrase, and more so as a state of being which differs for all of us, and can differ by the day. Every human being experiences a version of mental health from mentally-well to mentally-unwell.
Aside from recent years of influencers and celebrities coming forward with their own mental health struggles (The Rock, Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, just to name a few), we’ve also seen since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic a huge increase in people coming forward expressing difficulties managing their own mental/emotional health. We’ve seen this from executive-level/business owners on down. High-performers/high-earners to those entry-level and interns.
What the pandemic has created is a shared experience, a commonality, which each and every one of us has experienced on some level. Varying in degree, we’ve all faced isolation, loneliness, anxiety, fear, uneasiness, tension. Even someone with the healthiest mental wellbeing has faced struggles and tribulations throughout the past year, leaving no one immune. With that, we’ve seen a great degree of organizations to follow suit (one could argue forced in to this) with equipping themselves with the necessary tools and resources to help guide their struggling workforce accordingly.
Below are the basic 5 A’s. When taking a closer look at your organization ask yourself, “Do we have a mental health-friendly environment?”
The 5 A’s
Awareness– Arm yourself with mental health knowledge and assess workplace risk factors. Seek out professional development opportunities for you and your staff to grow in this space.
Accommodate– Be understanding & flexible to employee needs, understanding their personal situations. Assess when specific situations necessitate a reasonable accommodation
Assistance– Partner with a comprehensive EAP to provide mental health support needed for a growing/changing workforce and provide additional resources, articles and toolkits when able.
Access-facilitate access to resources to those who may need it by making them readily available and accessible and offering a variety of different materials, i.e. physical materials and digital.
Acceptance– Combat stigmas and stereotypes surrounding mental health and encourage open discussion in the workplace and choose to use inclusive language which doesn’t further stigmatize mental health
If you’re already a Best Care EAP client, remember that our support/services are only a phone call or email away! If you’d like more information on Best Care EAP services, please call us at 402-354-8000 or 800-801-4182. Or email EAP@BestCareEAP.org and visit our website at www.BestCareEAP.org