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.

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.

Purgatory in Paris – The Road To A Mental Health ERG

Max was 20, in an unfamiliar neighborhood in Paris, thousands of miles from home, desperately unhappy and in tears.

Depression can take a grip on anyone, at any time. Imagine being a 20 year old student, doing an internship in a foreign country that involves calling hairdressers all day and asking them how much a haircut costs. In addition to a boring internship, your family, friends and new girlfriend are thousands of miles away, and your host family is mainly in it for the money. These are the circumstances that overwhelmed Max and lead him to wander the streets of Paris in his depression. Fortunately, Max is the son of a clinical psychologist and he recognized the signs of depression. On returning to the US, he sought care and began a program of treatment.

In this episode of Silent Superheroes, Max tells the story of his internship in Paris that lead him to seek treatment for depression and anxiety. Because he’s tried many medications, he’ll talk about some of the more serious side effects he’s experienced with them. He’ll also talk about some of the questionable therapists he’s worked with and we’ll discuss the complexity of mental health care under the US healthcare system. Max will share his plan for his Mental Health ERG (Employee Resource Group) at Limeaid.

CORRECTIONS : Max asked to correct two things he said in the recording. Klonopin is a Schedule IV drug, not Schedule I as he said in the recording. In addition to that correction, Gregory Peck was chairman of the American Cancer Society.

Note : If you are a member of a mental health ERG at your workplace I’d love to talk to you. Please reach out via the contact form at www.silentsuperheroes.com.

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.

Travel and Talking About It, Will’s journey with anxiety and depression

Will is an award winning, independent video producer living with anxiety and depression.  In this episode of Silent Superheroes, Will talks about the benefits and drawbacks of being self-employed, and the pressures of the work environment that drove him to go out on his own. He shares how anxiety distorts his ability to be confident in his work.  We discuss the importance of finding the right therapist and by looking through Will’s eyes I see business travel in a new light.

Links

  • The theory of optimum stress (article)
  • Idiot Brain by Dean Burnett (book)

Getting Help

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are people talking about their personal experience with mental illness.  They are not trained medical professionals.  If you are considering making a change to your treatment plan, please contact a medical professional.

Take your mental health seriously. 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/

To help others find the Silent Superheroes podcast please leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting service.