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.

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.

Healing From PTSD And The Trauma of Sexual Assault, Lauren’s Story

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women will be a victim of rape at some point in their lives. If that number shocks you, it’s because many victims of sexual assault and rape cope with their trauma in silence. In 2017, the silence broke as women started speaking out on social media through the #metoo movement.

In this episode of Silent Superheroes, we meet Lauren, a software engineer from Australia who was a victim of rape as a teenager, leaving her with PTSD. Unable to tell anyone for more than a year, Lauren dropped out of high-school and struggled with panic attacks. Eventually, her journey of healing from PTSD began by writing a letter about her experience to her mum. Lauren has come to terms with her trauma through psychologists offices, medication, and with the support of family, friends and now colleagues. While coming to terms with her trauma, she studied to be a software engineer, and is now forging a successful career in technology.

Links

  • Finding a psychiatrist in Australia and New Zealand (resource)
  • National Sexual Violence Research Center (resource )

Getting Support

Remember, the people you hear on Silent Superheroes are talking about their personal experience with mental illness. Because they are not trained medical professionals, please consult your care provider before making a change to your treatment plan.

Take your mental health seriously. If you need help healing from PTSD, 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.