Mental health resources for your people during a pandemic

May 07, 2020

Weeks after 'physical distancing' replaced 'social distancing' as the preferred term for life during COVID-19, the reality remains: this pandemic is testing the mental health of every organization's people.

Half of Canadians report that their mental health has worsened, according to a survey by the Angus Reid Institute, and one in 10 says it has worsened “a lot.” Almost half (44%) say they are worried, and 41% report feeling anxious.

The question for business leaders: how can they support their people to stay not only productive but also mentally healthy?

Lead with communication

Communication tops the list of ways to support your people, especially now. The ways teams work and connect with others have changed. Most teams are now virtual and isolated. Now more than ever, it's important to maintain open channels of communication. This will help you provide your employees with a healthy, safe, inclusive, accessible, and supportive workplace.

Provide mental heath resources

Supporting your team during the COVID-19 outbreak requires a cross-functional approach. You may offer an employee assistance program, for example. In addition, consider providing your team with access to resources so they can manage their mental health more privately as challenges arise. Here is a list of free, informative resources to distribute: 

  • Government of Canada: Taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Tips to manage mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and contact information for immediate help. It also features a link to Wellness Together Canada, which offers free tools and resources to support Canadians with mental health and substance use. Employers should also consider providing links to local resources in their province or territory.

  • CAMH: Mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic (additional resources)

    Information sheets on topics such as dealing with anxiety and talking to children about COVID-19. This COVID-19 resource page from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health also provides information tailored to specific audiences—such as youth and retail frontline staff.

  • Canadian Mental Health Association: COVID-19 and mental health

    Resources to manage mental health. Topics include responding to employee anxiety, remaining social in a time of social distancing, and stress management information.

    Employers should also be aware of CMHA's Not Myself Today program, which provides learning modules and other tools for employees to manage their mental health. Designed to support employees at all times, the program has been supplemented with information specific to COVID-19. CMHA charges a nominal fee from participating businesses—typically $5 per employee annually. Employees create a password-protected account to access this online program. Learn more about Not Myself Today.

  • Stronger Minds by BEACON

    Videos, text-based resources, and resilience-building activities to help participants overcome worry, stay positive, and deal with isolation—all based on the insight of clinical psychologists. This free digital program requires users to create a secure account.

  • Headspace

    App that provides guided meditations to help people sleep, relax, and stay focused. While usually a paid service, Headspace has made part of its collection freely available during COVID-19.

Mental health: Not just a COVID-19 issue

The current pandemic outbreak has increased the mental health challenge for Canadian workers. Yet even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, one in five Canadians lived with mental health challenges, according to CMHA. Mental illness affects people of all ages, education levels, income brackets, and cultures.

As we move together toward a new normal, your team will continue to need your support. Uncertainty will impact the way they think and feel. To support your team, take time to keep them connected.

Communicate consistently, clearly, compassionately—and take these lessons with you to your post-coronavirus workplace.

To learn more about supporting your employees during the time of COVID-19, reach out to our People Advisory team.

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