By Angie Harvey
Most of the obvious effects of this Coronavirus Pandemic and the Shelter in Place mandate are obvious. Millions of folks have lost their jobs, the economy is close to collapse, small businesses near bankrupt, and there doesn’t seem to be any clear answers or quick solutions. One of the not so obvious effects is the mental health of millions of people that will certainly be frazzled at best. I’m known for pimping therapy as a healing remedy on people with the notion that we all could benefit from it. However, this pandemic, quarantine mandate, and current state of affairs are going to leave us all needing therapy as a benefit.
As a result of this unprecedented time businesses are going to have to provide, grant access to, and even mandate counseling and other supportive services for their employees in order for their business to become profitable and successful again. For nearly a decade I’ve attempted to get the businesses I’ve worked with to provide trainings, in-services, and retreats that cater to the personal AND professional development of their employees. I’m clear that the mental health and wellness of people produces more productive employees. There was always a push back as most companies didn’t feel the need to provide personal support to their professional employees. They didn’t want the responsibility and quite frankly it wasn’t their job; that’s what the EAP programs were for. Well, the adverse effects of this pandemic will challenge everyone from big corporations to small business owners to reconsider this concept … for people and profits’ sake.
Companies will soon come to know and understand that the employees they laid off, fired, furloughed, and assigned to telecommute left the building in one particular mental and emotional position, but will likely return in a far worse place. As I started my Sheltering in Place video series on YouTube (www.youtube.com/angieharveyspeaks) it quickly turned from sharing some friendly information about coping strategies to mental health awareness and self-intervention suggestions. Sheltering in place along with everything else on the minds of employees everywhere is quickly altering the mental health of people globally, especially the workforce that will be essential to rebooting the economy.
Workers are sheltering in place with little to no known resources for coping with their uncertainty, hopelessness, lack of motivation, loss of trust, loneliness, adverse adjustment to change, grief, trauma, second hand grief, sorrow, worry, and fear. These symptoms can and will quickly lead to diagnosable disorders like Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety, Suicide, Addiction, and abuse (of all kinds). There will also be a significant number of workers whose relationships will be dismantled, families disturbed, exacerbated of existing mental illness, finances ruined, loss of confidence lost, and self esteem lowered. All of this in additional attempting to change and trust again. This is a realistic view of the average worker who may or may not be able to return to work AND be productive.
I’m hopeful that CEO’s and business owners are spending at least a part of their day researching and discussing how they are going to provide the needed support and assistance to their employees. The interventions and access to resources should actually be in place now to ensure optimal transition back to work. I can honestly see a need for an in house supportive services team for all large companies. Let’s be clear there will be no return to normal or business as usually. The company that thinks outside the box and wholeheartedly invest in the mental health and wellness and support of their employees will be the one that sees productive workers who are needed and necessary to be successful and profitable.
Angie Harvey is a Motivational Speaker and the creator of Operation: I.M.P.A.C.T. (Intentionally Motivate People to Acclimate, Change and Transition). Her mission is to increase productivity, improve progression, and achieve positive outcomes with individuals, employers, employees, and students. She would love to hear how she can assist with your Change Management needs.
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This is a great read. The mental and emotional effects of this quarantine are real. I am currently struggling with the lack of motivation. Being out of my routine and without physical contact/access to people and places that feed my soul are fueling my lack of motivation. I cannot imagine what the “new” normal will look like, but, as you discussed, I hope that In the first few days/weeks of re-opening management will have discussions with their employees about the state of their mental and emotional health as COVID-19 has affected all.
Indeed – Let’s be clear there will be no return to normal or business as usually.