Bloomfield Health

The lasting impact of the pandemic on (employee) mental health

BY

Dr Alister Baird

|

26 Jan 2023

One of the most significant impacts of the pandemic on mental health has been the increase in feelings of isolation and loneliness. With social distancing measures, many people were unable to see friends and family, and have lost the support and connection that these relationships provide. This has led to an increase in feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can have a negative impact on mental health (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2020; Hawes et al., 2022). In addition, for industries and workforces that support people’s physical and mental health, risk of burnout and poor well-being derived from increased workload and lack of support only exacerbates the risk of a mental health crisis.

 

The pandemic has also had a significant impact on the economy, leading to job loss and financial uncertainty for many individuals. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety, as well as a decrease in overall well-being (Chen et al., 2020; Wang et al., 2020). Taken in combination with constant news updates and uncertainty about the future, this can all lead to increased anxiety, stress, and poor well-being (Cao et al., 2020; Sampogna et el., 2022).

 

It is important to note that the pandemic has also had a disproportionate impact on certain communities, including those who were already facing mental health challenges, such as people with pre-existing mental health conditions, low-income individuals, and people from ethnic minorities (Cao et al., 2020; Chae et al., 2021).

 

So, what can we do to cope with the lasting impact of the pandemic on our mental health?

 

First and foremost, it is important to take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and staying active. It is also important to maintain a regular routine, as this can provide a sense of normalcy and stability in uncertain times (Cao et al., 2020; Sampogna et el., 2022). It is also important to maintain social connections, even if they are virtual. Whether it’s through a video call with friends or family or joining an online support group, social connections are important for our mental well-being (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2020; Hawes et al., 2022).

 

It is also important to find ways to manage stress and anxiety. This can include techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing (Cao et al., 2020; Sampogna et el., 2022).

 

If you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to seek help. This can include talking to a therapist or counsellor, joining a support group, or even just talking to a trusted friend or family member. It is also important to reach out to available resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offered by many employers, as well as community-based mental health resources. It also becoming increasingly apparent that a significant responsibility rests on employers to provide a holistic and impactful mental health support program for their staff, a need that many organisations fail to see as fundamental to staff well-being, retention, and productivity.

 

In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of individuals all over the world. The sudden and drastic changes in our daily lives, including social isolation, job loss, and economic uncertainty, have taken a toll on our mental well-being. However, there are things we can do to cope with the impact of the pandemic on our mental health. It is important that potential trauma and lasting effects of the pandemic are not buried or forgotten. It is important to take care of ourselves, maintain social connections, find ways to manage stress and anxiety, and seek help if we need it

 

References:

 

Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Baker, M., Harris, T., & Stephenson, D. (2020). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: A meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 15(3), 331-344.

 

Hawes, M. T., Szenczy, A. K., Klein, D. N., Hajcak, G., & Nelson, B. D. (2022). Increases in depression and anxiety symptoms in adolescents and young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological medicine, 52(14), 3222-3230

 

Chen, Q., Liang, M., Li, Y., Guo, J., Fei, D., Wang, L., ... & Zhang, Z. (2020). Mental health care for medical staff in China during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Lancet Psychiatry, 7(4), e15-e16

 

Wang, C., Pan, R., Wan, X., Tan, Y., Xu, L., Ho, CS, et al. (2020). Immediate psychological responses and associated factors during the initial stage of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic among the general population in China. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(5), 1729.

 

Cao, W., Fang, Z., Hou, G., Han, M., Xu, X., Dong, J., & Zheng, J. (2020). The psychological impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on college students in China. Psychiatry research, 287, 112934.

 

Sampogna, G., Pompili, M., & Fiorillo, A. (2022). Mental health in the time of Covid-19 pandemic: A worldwide perspective. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(1), 161.

 

Chae, D. H., Yip, T., Martz, C. D., Chung, K., Richeson, J. A., Hajat, A., ... & LaVeist, T. A. (2021). Vicarious racism and vigilance during the COVID-19 pandemic: mental health implications among Asian and Black Americans. Public Health Reports, 136(4), 508-517.


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