How to manage employee mental health through Coronavirus

What happens to employee mental health when you add a global pandemic like Covid-19 / coronavirus to the usual stresses and strains of work and life?  I sought out experts in workplace mental health field to get their advice. I was fortunate to find Candice Schaefer, the Head of Global Employee Wellness at Twitter and Myra Altman, the Head of Clinical Care at Modern Health, a mental health platform.

During our discussion, we identify the two key impacts of coronavirus on mental health : increased overall anxiety and loneliness.  We discuss how companies should manage the impact of coronavirus on mental health at work. And we also look at the positive impact of coronavirus on mental health at work.

What you can do

Myra and Candice identify 6 ways that you can support employee mental health through the coronavirus / covid 19 outbreak.

  1. Make the logistics of working from home easy. This can reduce anxiety because it’s stressful to adjust to working in a new environment. Make sure you’re helping with equipment, software setup, expenses and ergonomic challenges,
  2. Establish new norms that encourage people to connect each day, for example a daily standup. Helping people connect can combat loneliness,
  3. Create new ways of connecting socially, for example a scheduled Pet Happy Hour where pet owners get online and introduce their pets. You could also get people to share a #before and #after challenge for setting up their WFH space. This will also help combat loneliness,
  4. Encourage people to maintain health exercise habits, for example holding a step challenge or having a group walk using phones + Zoom. A healthy exercise routine can combat anxiety,
  5. Help people maintain a routine and set appropriate boundaries so “work” and “life” don’t blur and create anxiety. The social cues you have in an office (that the lights are off and everyone left) aren’t there at home. There are several different ways to set a boundary. Individuals can nominate a buddy to remind them to step away from their desk to help with social connection. Or people can set an alarm, or have an announcement in Slack,
  6. Managers should invest extra time in calling people on the phone. This both makes a social connection and lets you look for signs of anxiety. If you’re not the type of manager who is “good” at connecting with people human to human, this is a great time to try,
  7. And at the corporate level, communicate, communicate, communicate. Uncertainty creates anxiety and right now employees may be uncertain about how long they’ll be working away from the office and whether there are going to be impacts to the business and their job.

Links

  • Keeping Twitter Employees Safe During Coronavirus (article)
  • Supporting your teams in stressful situations (article)
  • Dr Candice Schaefer (guest)
  • Dr Myra Altman (guest)
  • Modern Health (company)
  • Twitter (company)

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are sharing their opinions about mental health and mental illness, and are not giving advice. For that reason, please consult with your care provider before making a change to your treatment approach.

It’s important to take your mental health seriously. Consequently, if you need to speak to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255, or text crisistextline.org on 741741. Both provide 24×7 confidential counseling to people in the United States. Worldwide visit http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

Because you listened to the  podcast, you can help others find it by leaving us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.

A psychiatrist, counselor and advocate walk into a podcast

In this episode of Silent Superheroes, we’re doing something a little bit different to mix things up.  We’ll listen in on a conversation about mental illness at work between 3 people who work in the mental health field. Firstly, we have Catherine Davies who is a licensed psychiatrist. Secondly, we have Joe Guppy, a therapist turned author and teacher. And finally we have Jeremiah Bainbridge, who is a mental health program director with the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Seattle.

In their wide ranging conversation, Catherine, Joe and Jeremiah try to define stigma. They also dig into the ways that health benefits can help and hinder mental health care. And finally they generate a cornucopia of ideas about what businesses should be doing to support people who manage mental illness at work.

Links

  • WHO Report on Mental Health in the Workplace (article)
  • NAMI Seattle -Jeremiah’s employer (organization)
  • Dyad Mental Health – Catherine’s practice (organization)
  • Joe Guppy (website)
  • My Fluorescent God – Joe’s book (book)
  • Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies (article)

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are sharing their opinions about mental health and mental illness, and are not giving advice. For that reason, please consult with your care provider before making a change to your treatment approach.

It’s important to take your mental health seriously. Consequently, if you need to speak to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255, or text crisistextline.org on 741741. Both provide 24×7 confidential counseling to people in the United States. Worldwide visit http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

Because you listened to the  podcast, you can help others find it by leaving us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.


Finding Perspective, Bipolar and Alcoholism at Work

By day, Daniel is a sales manager at a credit card processing company and by night he’s a stand up comedian. Bipolar and alcoholism bring a unique perspective to Daniel’s work. As a stand up comedian, his life provides plenty of material, and his bipolar means he’s two comedians in one. As a sales manager, he’s able to stay calm and not be driven by the potential for success and failure. Because of his illnesses, Daniel has an honesty and an insight about him that cuts through the day-to-day business bullshit. As one of his colleagues, he makes work interesting and fun.

In this episode of Silent Superheroes, we get to know Daniel a lot better.  He talks about comedy, and how bipolar means he’s two different comedians in one performer.  He shares the advice he got from a homeless woman in Central Park, that lead him to sobriety.  And finally, he reflects on the slightly nihilistic outlook on life, that helps him keep things in perspective.

Links

Here’s some places to find Daniel :

As a result of Daniel’s Instagram, I’ve just had a fit of laughter.

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are people talking about their personal experience living with, and managing, mental illness. For that reason, please consult with your care provider before making a change to your treatment approach.

It’s important to take your mental health seriously. Consequently, if you need to speak to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255, or text crisistextline.org on 741741. Both provide 24×7 confidential counseling to people in the United States. Worldwide visit http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

You can help others find the podcast by leaving us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.

Garbage And Gas To A Mental Health Advocate – ADD

Todd and his family identified his ADD fairly early in life. For a while, a regimen of medication helped him be a 4-point student. Then in 7th grade, a friend introduced him to marijuana. Todd decided he’d found a different way to manage ADD, quit his medications and started a rollercoaster that didn’t fully settle down until he found the power of community through Crossfit.

In this episode of Silent Superheroes, we’ll talk about whether we’d live our lives again without our mental illness. We’ll discuss how Microsoft has become more mental illness friendly under new CEO Satya Nadella. And Todd explains why he arrived to record this episode bearing a plant.

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are people talking about their personal experience living with, and managing, mental illness. For that reason, please consult with your care provider before making a change to your treatment approach.

It’s important to take your mental health seriously. Consequently, if you need to speak to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255, or text crisistextline.org on 741741. Both provide 24×7 confidential counseling to people in the United States. Worldwide visit http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

You can help others find the podcast by leaving us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.

A Monster, Saved By Her Knight In Shining Armor – BDD and Suicide

“I remember doing it, and I remember making the conscious effort. But it really wasn’t me … but it was me. It’s a really hard thing to explain.”

That was Shana, describing what she was feeling just after swallowing handfuls of pills during a suicide attempt.  Shana was the Silent Superhero featured in episode 17, where she shared her experience living and working with PTSD and OCD.  In this episode, we pick up Shana’s story and get into her experience of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). She also talks about how she tried to end her life, what that felt like and how Richard from episode 5 became her knight in shining armor. 

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are people talking about their personal experience living with, and managing, mental illness. For that reason, please consult with your care provider before making a change to your treatment approach.

It’s important to take your mental health seriously. Consequently, if you need to speak to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255, or text crisistextline.org on 741741. Both provide 24×7 confidential counseling to people in the United States. Worldwide visit http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

You can help others find the podcast by leaving us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.

My Boss Wants To Fire Me, PTSD And OCD At Work

Shana is an HR professional living with bipolar, OCD, PTSD and body dysmorphic disorder. On their own, any one of these conditions can be overwhelming. Managing all of them together should be an insurmountable obstacle, but it’s one Shana overcomes. Even so, there are serious consequences, like having 31 jobs in 20 years and attempting suicide.

In the first of two episodes featuring Shana, we’ll hear her experience with PTSD and OCD. Shana will explain the precision required to set her clocks and the complexity of hanging her wardrobe. She’ll talk about how her PTSD caused her to hold so many jobs. And she explains why PTSD and OCD are difficult conditions to treat.

Don’t miss the next episode where we’ll pick up Shana’s story again and learn what body dysmorphic disorder is, and get an honest reflection on attempting suicide.

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are people talking about their personal experience living with, and managing, mental illness. For that reason, please consult with your care provider before making a change to your treatment approach.

It’s important to take your mental health seriously. Consequently, if you need to speak to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255, or text crisistextline.org on 741741. Both provide 24×7 confidential counseling to people in the United States. Worldwide visit http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

You can help others find the podcast by leaving us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.

Marnie’s Mental Health Management Masterclass

Marnie works at Expedia helping teams tell stories, which she describes as her dream job.  Like me, Marnie lives with undiagnosed bipolar. She went through two marriages and divorces before an offhand comment in an acting class nudged her to explore her mental state.

In this episode of Silent Superheroes, Marnie shares the comment made by her acting teacher that lead to her bipolar diagnosis.  We role play how a manager or HR professional should handle a conversation with an employee with mental illness. Marnie explains her thorough, structured way for identifying medication side effects.  And in addition to that, she reflects on the positive and negative ways the mania part of her bipolar has affected her career.

Please note, due to an equipment problem there are occasional audio dropouts in this episode. Typically the dropout causes a missing word or part of a word.

Links

  • An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield (book)
  • Expedia, Marnie’s employer (company)

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are people talking about their personal experience living with, and managing, mental illness. For that reason, please consult with your care provider before making a change to your treatment approach.

It’s important to take your mental health seriously. Consequently, if you need to speak to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255, or text crisistextline.org on 741741. Both provide 24×7 confidential counseling to people in the United States. Worldwide visit http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

You can help others find the podcast by leaving us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.


Stress, Drugs and Rigmarole, Epilepsy At Work With Kyle

Grand mal epileptic seizures are a serious business, often leaving someone on the floor convulsing. They’re scary for people around them and very dangerous for those who experience them. Kyle’s been living with them for nearly 20 years. Despite that length of time, it’s only recently he’s to come to terms with the fact that epilepsy is a condition you need to take seriously and manage carefully.  Kyle’s resistance to managing epilepsy isn’t through a lack of knowledge. For example, his mother has it and his two sisters take medication as a precaution against it.  The resistance comes from something deeper, the resistance we all have to admitting that there’s some part of us that doesn’t work right. That’s something that we must eventually learn to accept to begin the healing process.

In this episode of Silent Superheroes, we hear about Kyle’s first grand mal seizure and what triggers them. In addition to his triggers, Kyle shares what it’s like to experience a seizure, and how long it takes him to recover.  And he also reflects on different places he’s worked and how some have been better and many have been worse for managing epilepsy.

Links

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are people talking about their personal experience living with, and managing, mental illness. For that reason, please consult with your care provider before making a change to your treatment approach.

It’s important to take your mental health seriously. Consequently, if you need to speak to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255, or text crisistextline.org on 741741. Both provide 24×7 confidential counseling to people in the United States. Worldwide visit http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

You can help others find the Silent Superheroes podcast by leaving us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.

Drums, Depression and a Dog, with Kristina Schiano

Kristina Schiano is a professional drummer who at 23 years old has built a following of more than 750,000 subscribers to her Youtube channel. Her most popular video has been watched more than 10 million times.  These are remarkable achievements and even more remarkable when you consider periods of anxiety as a teenager left her housebound.

In this episode of Silent Superheroes, we’ll hear about Kristina’s on again, off again relationship with treatment. She’ll explain how anxiety and depression mix with a life lived on camera and social media. We’ll hear how she manages her conditions and she’ll share practical advice for getting through the more difficult times.

Links

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are talking about their personal experience living with, and managing mental illness. For that reason, please consult with your care provider before making a change to your treatment approach.

It’s important to take your mental health seriously. Consequently, if you need to speak to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255, or text crisistextline.org on 741741. Both provide 24×7 confidential counseling to people in the United States. Worldwide visit http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

You can help others find the Silent Superheroes podcast by leaving a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.

When A Good Night’s Sleep Isn’t Enough – Narcolepsy At Work

As Shannon read the driving direction, she fell asleep again. This wasn’t the first time, in fact, she’d done it after every direction. Her inability to stay awake had become a problem, and she decided to finally see a doctor. The doctor informed her she has narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy is a rare neurological condition that disrupts sleep patterns. Disrupted sleep leads to sleep attacks, the sudden need to sleep during the day. It can also cause sleep hallucinations and sometimes cataplexy, which is sudden loss of muscle control.  These symptoms all make it challenging to manage narcolepsy at work.

In this episode of Silent Superheroes, we’ll learn what narcolepsy and how it’s different than feeling sleepy a lot.  Shannon explains how and why she got diagnosed, and the surprising preferred way she manages narcolepsy at work. Shannon will share her experiences working with narcolepsy and share a few simple things that a business can do to support a narcoleptic employee.

Links

  • Geniuslink, the company Shannon co-founded (business)
  • The Research Is Clear, Long Hours Backfire (article)
  • Xyrem Patent Dispute (article)

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are people talking about their personal experience living with, and managing, mental illness. For that reason, please consult with your care provider before making a change to your treatment approach.

It’s important to take your mental health seriously. Consequently, if you need to speak to someone you can call 1-800-273-8255, or text crisistextline.org on 741741. Both provide 24×7 confidential counseling to people in the United States. Worldwide visit http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

You can help others find the Silent Superheroes podcast by leaving us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.