Social distancing is a crucial norm that has arisen due to the pandemic. However, this has led to isolation, and many people face mental problems as a consequence of this.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 8.2 percent of adults over 18 show depression symptoms, and 6.6 percent had symptoms of depressive disorder. Since social isolation is necessary and workplaces have moved online, many employees face mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, burnout.
As the owner of a business, it’s partly your responsibility to ensure you’re not adding a decreasing mental state of your employees. For obvious reasons, you should care about your employees’ wellbeing, but your staff can also only be productive when healthy. So, it’s important for you to prioritize your remote (or on-site if you have them) employees’ mental health. The following tips can help you with this:
1. Remove the Stigma of Mental Health Issues
Working from home can be tough, and many employers may avoid the topic of mental health issues entirely to not dampen the mood. However, it is vital that you keep an open mind and teach your team that mental health is not taboo. Ensure that your team knows that they are free to discuss anything on their mind (inoffensive) and that they can always reach out for help. Be sure to provide the appropriate resources for anyone who may be struggling.
2. Schedule Video Check-ins
Remote employees often miss the social interaction that comes with their jobs. Schedule informal one-on-one video calls or conference meeting sessions so that they can see each other and still feel like a team. You can hold virtual breakfast meetings or lunches where everyone can cook their favorite meals and make small talk unrelated to work. Depending on your company’s financial status, you can also offer them coupons or treat them to meals.
3. Know What to Look For
Many employers often never realize when their employees are struggling with health issues and wonder where they went wrong. There are many signs and symptoms that you should look out for when holding virtual meetings or conferences.
- Signs of Depression– This includes sleep issues, sadness, social withdrawal, lack of interest in activities that were earlier exciting, difficulty concentrating, undereating or overeating, and fatigue. Apart from this, individuals may also demonstrate signs of self-harm, restlessness, or feelings of guilt.
- Signs of Anxiety– An individual may show signs of worry, constant irritation, paranoia, palpitations, hyperventilation, fatigue, insomnia, and gastrointestinal problems.
- Signs of Burnout– While burnout isn’t diagnosable, an employee may grow frustrated, cynical, and emotionally distant from their coworkers. They may also experience headaches, intestinal problems, fatigue, and reduce performance or inability to cope with work.
4. Ensure Your Health Insurance Includes Good Coverage for Mental Health
Mental health is a crucial aspect that shouldn’t be neglected, and it should also be included in your health insurance. You should reach out to your health insurance consulting servicer to learn about your options for mental health coverage and ensure your employees know this is an option.
Mental illnesses are to be treated at the same level as physical ailments, and they are covered by almost all health plans offered by insurance companies. Here are a few things that you should ensure is included in your mental health coverage:
- OPD Treatment– Many insurance plans only offer coverage for in-patient hospitalization. Unless your insurance plan includes OPD or out-patient department treatment, employees will only be able to get coverage for dire issues that require hospitalization. Ensure that your plan also includes OPD services so that employees can get coverage for consultation and psychiatric therapy.
- Extended Limitations– Insurance companies can refuse to provide coverage to employees if they were already at a high risk of developing the mental issues or were already experiencing signs and symptoms of the illness before the pandemic occurred. Make sure that your plan or policy includes not just disorders but also illnesses leading to physical ailments.
5. Provide Opportunities and Resources for Self-Care
While a team may need to put in long hours while working remotely, it is also crucial that you let them take some ‘me’ time. While you can schedule breaks and off days, staying connected is vital to compensate for the consequences of social distancing. While recreating meal times can be an excellent idea, you can also encourage friendly competition by holding trivia nights or other fun games. Apart from this, employees can meet up virtually for happy hours and even participate in morning yoga or meditation together through modern apps.
Yoga can be a great way to stay physically healthy, and meditation can help improve stress due to pandemic and the change to remote work.
Creating a Safe Space and Focusing on Digital Socializing
Even though there is a significant change in how everything works, it is crucial that employees feel motivated and good about their work from home. Although it’s a difficult challenge that can be stressful at times, staying connected and making them feel like they can open up and talk about their emotions and experiences can make all the difference.