The reaction of the media and the governments to the epidemic has definitely served in and fueled anxiety. In a dramatic way, the term ‘pandemic’ was announced and the epidemic unfolded after the announcement by WHO – which was definitely a hair-raising moment for everyone!
That included apocalyptic messaging about millions of dead bodies littering our cities followed, where experts identified vulnerable populations — like people who are elderly or chronically ill, plus those who are living in group facilities like nursing homes.
No doubt, breathless questions mounted. Simply like, what, if ever, would life return to a semblance of what we used to experience? Within the torrent of mixed messages about science, can any of those be real or fake? What can be the post-lockdown scenario for containing the viruses?
All of this is played on an endless daily newsreel that seems to get rounded out by rising figures on illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths that continuously take place around the world and close to home.
Scaling up the knowledge with a worldwide network of partners, one needs to prioritize actions and build mental healthcare systems such as –
Empowering a good range of digital tools that build mental health and enable front-line workers in industries that deliver evidence-based brief psychosocial therapies. Two examples for the same are behavioral activation for depression, along with the psychological first-aid for acute mental health crises.
To build on time-tested executive leadership training, one needs to twin their hands-on mentoring by the faculties that are experienced. Which can further aim in building leadership capacities that scale up the necessary evidence-based mental healthcare.
COUNTDOWN is developing a set of common core metrics, such as availability of skilled workers in industrial arenas with proper providers and quality of care that evaluate the performance of these mental health care systems, further making them increasingly accountable. And plus it performs many roles in the context of the pandemic.
A few examples are tracking population-level mental health across and within countries, identifying the unmet need for services as the greatest, with the ongoing evaluation of the impact of the investments.
- Setting the tone at the workplace. Talk about mental health openly. Share your own challenges, including your failures. Normalize therapy, and destigmatize mental illness. Create a culture where people feel safe and encouraged to seek mental health services. Keep a track of your employee health using Occupational Health and Safety software.
- Improve access. Make sure you’re offering care to the people in need. Take a hard look at the benefits package and ensure that the necessary services aren’t impossible to access due to narrow provider of networks or high out-of-the-pocket costs. Know that employee assistance programs are a good starting point but are extremely far from being a complete solution to employees’ mental health.
- We know as first-hand respondents in EHS and OHS that people have major obstacles in accessing in-person care. Many people keep travelling long distances, increasingly weeks or even months to see a provider. As industrial professionals who work to improve access, one needs to consider giving employees the due access to effective therapy solutions as they remove these obstacles and ensure they can connect with a provider quickly and conveniently.
It becomes important to take care of the families – this is essential because even the best employees struggle when there are issues at home. There are children that face mental health challenges, and they can further get worsened by the pandemic.
It becomes important to train the leader because a lasting cultural change begins top down – effective training for the leaders becomes important as they must understand the importance of mental wellness, with the signs of mental and emotional challenges and solutions that companies offer.
With an employee resource group, one can enlist help from the company’s frontlines and further gain great insights into the challenges and the concerns especially at times when employees face challenges and concerns. While working in partnership, as a group, it becomes important for them to customize solutions to improve the mental wellness of the employees and extend a culture of openness and support.