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Supporting Mental Health of Employees During and Beyond COVID-19

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Mental Health in the Context of COVID-19: The Big Picture

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What to Expect:

Mental health always matters in the workplace. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it matters now more than ever. Business leaders and managers who integrate mental health into their COVID-19 recovery plan have the opportunity to help their employees and company thrive during the recovery and beyond.

Because of COVID-19, employees all over the world have been forced to adjust their routines. Millions of workers have been working from home because of the pandemic. It is the largest and quickest mass shift in working patterns ever recorded. Returning to the office after working from home also presents significant challenges and stresses. Every employee has different circumstances. Some have their children at home. Some have responsibilities – both longstanding and new – caring for older family members who are ill. Work disruptions, extended time at home, additional personal stresses, financial pressure, caring for family members, and uncertainty about the future – all of these changes can impact employees’ mental health and influence their work engagement and job performance.

Why Your Employees’ Mental Health Matters at Work

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Addressing employee mental health can have major benefits for the people in your workforce. When you incorporate mental health into your COVID-19 recovery planning, you have the potential to promote coping and resilience and help prevent mental illness. Attending to your employees’ mental health needs during COVID-19 will mitigate the damaging effects of the pandemic and ensure that your employees are supported in ways that enhance their overall well-being and productivity. This will, in turn, enhance your organization’s capacity to successfully navigate these choppy waters.

Major Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19

  • 35% of individuals in China expressed experiencing psychological distress due to COVID-19 (Source: General Psychiatry).
  • 80% of respondents in India felt the need for mental health services to deal with emotional issues and other psychological issues during this pandemic (Resource: Asian Journal of Psychiatry).
  • 1 in 4 Americans are binge drinking more frequently  (Resource: McKinsey).
  • Over one third of American surveyed reported feeling anxious and depressed during this pandemic (Resource: McKinsey).
  • In the UK, 36% reported that work pressure had increased, 43% said that they did not have time to get their work done and 42% reported more fatigue than before ‘lockdown’ (Working at Home Wellbeing Survey)
  • 46% of American parents with children under age 18 reported high stress levels related to the coronavirus pandemic were high, with 71% reported significant stress managing their children’s online learning (Resource: APA)
  • 20% of Chinese adults surveyed reported anxiety and depressionassociated with frequent social media exposure (Resource: PLOS One).


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Supporting your Employees’ Mental Health is Not Only the Right Thing To Do, it’s the Smart Thing To Do.

Employee well-being is at the heart of a strong, healthy, and ethical workplace. As a business leader or manager, your duty of care and responsibility for your employees’ health will always include attention to their mental health and well-being, but it can be difficult to juggle all the competing demands. In the context of COVID-19, attention to employees’ mental health and well-being is both critically important and especially challenging.

This toolkit gives you information in a format that is easy to use so that you are able to successfully integrate mental health into your COVID-19 recovery efforts.

Given that we spend most of our waking hours working, our workplace environment can dramatically influence how we feel and how we function. When leaders and managers support employees’ mental health, a virtuous cycle is created: overall employee well-being positively impacts work performance, which pays dividends in terms of organizational success.

The Benefits of Supporting Employees’ Mental Health

The mental well-being of the individuals who make up your workforce is a strong asset for your business - from improving company culture to increasing customer and client satisfaction.

  • Increased Productivity and Improved Work Performance
    Employees are better able to focus on work during the workday when their mental health needs are effectively addressed. Organizations can support their employees who are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety caused by COVID-19 by ensuring a supportive environment, providing useful information, and facilitating access to treatment. Such efforts prevent problems from growing and promote coping and resilience, which leads to positive impacts for employee health, work engagement, and performance (Resource: One Mind at Work).

  • Reduced Absenteeism, Turnover, and Injuries
    Employees with untreated mental health concerns are more likely to miss work and leave their jobs. This puts burden on businesses to fill these gaps. High quality care for depression can lower rates of absenteeism among employees (Resource: Medical Care). Employees with better mental health are also less likely to think about leaving their job (Resource: Institute for Employment Studies).

  • Enhanced Reputation, Recruitment, and Retention
    Companies that focus on mental health in the workplace are perceived to be more desirable places to work, which enhances recruitment and retention of the best and brightest employees. Over 60% of young professionals today describe wanting to work for a company that supports their mental health and well-being (Resource: Time Magazine).

  • Improved Mental Health is Good for Overall Health
    Having an untreated mental health condition like depression increases risk for other health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Good mental health is associated with lower rates of cancer and heart disease (Resource: Lancaster University). Employees with better mental health are more likely to attend routine health visits and engage in health activities such as exercise and following a nutritious diet, which means that that they can remain well and in the workforce long after the COVID-19 crisis.


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