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14 Oct 2020

The long-term mental health effects of COVID-19 and how to support employees through the pandemic

With the long-term and short-term future still unclear, the one thing we do know is that the coronavirus pandemic is not going to disappear overnight. In fact, we don’t know when the normal will arrive or what it will look like.

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Henrik Haaland Jahren of the digital health platform, Braive shares: “The challenge now is that we are forced to live with a high degree of uncertainty for a very long time, which means there’s a risk that stress will accumulate over time.”

As we shared in another recent REBA article, the effects, and to what degree, the pandemic has on an individual largely depends on one's resilience.

Resilience is crucial to our long-term health, and, therefore, it is vital that we mentally prepare ourselves to run a marathon, not a sprint. As individuals, this means taking care of ourselves. For employers, it means supporting your employees’ mental health.

We are more connected than we think

During the current situation, many people have found themselves isolated, disconnected from their daily routines and their normal social situations. Humans are social creatures, and, for many, the workplace provided an important social aspect. Now, with many employees currently working from home and workplaces restricted by the number of people permitted, it’s important that we find other ways to socialise.

Thankfully today, with the rapid advancements in technology in recent years, employers can utilize the many digital tools and services available to provide employees with social opportunities and the social interaction they need. From chat and messenger services, digital meeting platforms to e-mails and push notifications, we are always connected.

It’s important that employers use digital tools to host team meetings and create digital hang-outs for coffee breaks or afterwork drinks. For more ideas, be sure to read our post on ways to create social opportunities during a time of social distancing.

Gaining access to support

In addition to the array of communication tools, technology has also enabled employees to access their benefits to get support like never before, thanks to employee benefit platforms and employee apps.

Unfortunately, many employees are still hesitant to tell their managers or HR that they need help. Therefore, it’s essential that employers review their current employee offering to make sure that it includes benefits that reflect the current situation and support employee mental health. Read our post, 4 Reasons to Review Your Benefits Offer in Times of Crisis for more tips.

Employers can offer a range of mental health services, which employees can enrol in through their employee benefits platform. For example, employers may wish to include services such as digital counselling, mindfulness and meditation programmes, sleep aid apps, conversation therapy or online CBT.

Practice makes perfect

Through stress and worry, naturally, our mental health deteriorates over time. Therefore, as Henrik Haaland Jahren of Braive explains: “It’s important for people to have methods to continue working with throughout their life in order to develop and maintain good mental health.”

In the same way that exercising physically “every now and then” is unlikely to make a significant difference to your physical health, we must establish and maintain regular habits and exercises to support our mental health. Again, COVID-19 is not a sprint, but a marathon.

There are many ways employees can introduce positive regular mental health practices in their life. For example, some people might find developing new sleep routines to be most helpful, others may find meditating or doing mindfulness breathing exercises useful, while others may find speaking with a therapist online once a week most beneficial. The most important thing is that employees know that a range of mental health services are available to them, and that they can access and use these services digitally.

We recently surveyed more than 5,000 employees from different industries and age groups throughout Europe to find out what benefits are most important to them, what perks they would consider changing employers for, and what effect HR tech platforms have on employee experience.

To see the results and get help with your benefits strategy, download The Benefits and Engagement Report.

This article is provided by Benify.

In partnership with BENIFY

Benify offers the market's leading global benefits and total reward platform.

Contact us today

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