The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on our collective mental health. 81% of employees have experienced mental health issues due to the coronavirus pandemic — with 1 in 4 significantly or extremely affected.1 And more than 13% of adults have started or increased substance use since the pandemic began.2
For some employees, the stress of returning to work could cause a surge in mental health symptoms. Knowing how to support workforce mental health — and creating a psychologically healthy work environment where employees feel safe, respected, and empowered — is more important than ever.
Employees are experiencing:
With so many stresses and struggles brought on by COVID-19, it’s clear that mental health needs to be at the heart of your workforce wellness strategy going forward. As a leader, you can begin achieving this by:
Learn more about mental health and addiction medicine at Kaiser Permanente >
Your employees and their families could be dealing with grief and loss for many different reasons. They may have lost loved
ones to COVID-19, or experienced grief over political animosities or racial injustices. Some have felt a loss of identity, personal
freedom, or social support during the pandemic. And many have faced financial hardships as well. It’s no surprise that 7 out of
10 employees say the pandemic has been the most stressful time of their professional career.3
Help make employees feel safe and supported by focusing on:
Some people associate heightened COVID-19 risk with specific groups of people, despite no evidence to support these false beliefs. This stigma is driven by fear and anxiety — not facts — and can compromise safety, health, and interpersonal relationships at work.
Who’s more likely to experience stigma related to COVID-19?
Stigma can cause severe mental and emotional distress
Sadly, many stigmatized groups have faced rejection, discrimination — even verbal abuse and physical violence — during the pandemic. These potential threats can make people afraid to seek care if they do have COVID-19 symptoms. It’s essential for leaders to create inclusive, stigma-free work environments where COVID-19 risks can be mitigated effectively and empathetically.
You can take a stand against stigma by:
Even as the pandemic’s end may be in sight, many employees are struggling. But you have an opportunity to build trust with them as we prepare for the next normal — by acknowledging the toll COVID-19 has taken on all of us. By leading with empathy and taking a strong position against stigma. And most importantly, by making sure your employees have access to high-quality care, resources, and support. Because when you commit to being a champion for workforce mental health, your team — and your organization — can only grow stronger as a result.
View a complete list of mental health resources >
Mental health and addiction medicine at Kaiser Permanente >
Stress, anxiety, and isolation — how to support employee mental health during the coronavirus pandemic >
The remote work revolution: Engaging employees during COVID-19 >
1“American Worker in Crisis: Understanding Employee Mental Health in Unprecedented Times,” Lyra Health, July 2020.
2Mark Czeisler, et al., “Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 14, 2020.
3New Data from Ginger Shows Nearly 70 Percent of Workers Feel More Stressed During COVID-19 Than at Any Other Point in Their Entire Professional Career,” Ginger press release, April 9, 2020.
4Fan-Yun Lan, et . al., “Association between SARS-CoV-2 infection, exposure risk and mental health among a cohort of essential retail workers in the USA,” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, October 30, 2020.
Services covered under your health plan are provided and/or arranged by Kaiser Permanente health plans: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., in Northern and Southern California and Hawaii • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc., Nine Piedmont Center, 3495 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30305, 404-364-7000 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., 2101 E. Jefferson St., Rockville, MD 20852 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, 500 NE Multnomah St., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97232 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington or Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, Inc., 320 Westlake Ave. N, Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98109 • Self-insured plans are administered by Kaiser Permanente Insurance Company, One Kaiser Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612
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