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The impact of COVID-19 on mental health at work

Between repeated lockdowns & confinements, the restrictions imposed or the generalization of work from home (WFH), the morale of the people is at its lowest, implying harmful consequences on their mental health. 

Health Desk Health Desk
New Delhi Published on: June 06, 2021 14:34 IST
The impact of COVID-19 on mental health at work
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The impact of COVID-19 on mental health at work

The health crisis which is hitting the country head-on leaves an indelible mark on the daily life of Indians and in particular employees. Between repeated lockdowns & confinements, the restrictions imposed or the generalization of work from home (WFH), the morale of the people is at its lowest, implying harmful consequences on their mental health. At present, the issue of well-being at work is at the heart of the concerns of Team Leaders, Managers and company stakeholders who are faced with new issues concerning the organization of work and support for employees to ensure their balance and well-being. The Second Wave has hit hard at almost every family’s health. 

Mental health: What is it?

Over the years, the concept of mental health has continued to evolve. It implies a state of well-being in which the individual "can fulfill himself with his abilities, overcome the difficulties of everyday life, cope with stress" while making his positive contribution to his community.

Good mental health affects our feelings, our emotions and can impact our lifestyle or even our relationship to work. This observation is clearly visible nowadays in view of the situation which has paralyzed the country for more an a year.The Covid-19 pandemic has already forced many workers to experiment with new ways of working where isolation and hyper connectivity are an integral part of their daily life.

Those who once had a real dynamic of work punctuated by social ties and a team spirit, are now subject to questioning and uncertainties about their future.Therefore, when mental health deteriorates, pathologies can emerge. Among the most common mental illnesses are disorders that affect the way people feel, such as depression or anxiety disorders.

Analysis of the effects of the Covid on employees 

The health context highlights the appearance of psycho-social risks which plunge employees a little more into a downward spiral.  Between low morale, loss of motivation and disengagement, almost one in two employees is in a state of psychological distress. Work, which is usually a source of balance, now becomes a place that crystallizes invisible ailments such as stress or psychological suffering.

There are studies across the globe which report an explosion in cases of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts among employees. Furthermore, occurring as a last resort to put an end to a vicious circle, suicidal behaviour is strongly present in certain professional categories.  The three professional categories which have encountered a strong propensity to suicide attempts, among them we find are business leaders, artisan traders and the unemployed.

In addition to mental illnesses and anxiety, during the last few months, there is an increase in long-term sick leave and a large proportion of employee absenteeism, which weighs heavily on a company's finances.

On the other hand, employees are not the only victims of this large-scale social & even a financial crisis,  managers are struggling with this situation. Having to respond to a new work organization and the growing expectations of their teams, Team Leaders & managers are on the front line of the health crisis. As a result, their morale is severely tested, which manifests itself in emotional disorders, stress in fine mental pathologies.

The new challenges for company players in managing a "silent pandemic"

Faced with these issues, team leaders &managers have adapted and implemented a series of measures to improve the quality of working life for employees. In our society, mental health remains a taboo subject, too often killed by those who suffer from it and still too little treated in business.But for all that, mental illnesses, although being silent evils, require the implementation of effective solutions in the short and long term.

Faced with new challenges, the missions of Team Leads, Managers and Employers are now integrating the social concerns advocating the preservation of the well-being of employees by means of the prevention and detection of psycho-social risks. 

The investment of Team Leads and Managers in the preventive approach

The health crisis is impacting the sustainability of companies. Many companies are working to better identify the individual needs of their employees and adapt measures on a case-by-case basis. The priority for managers is to invest in the health of employees in order to boost their motivation and commitment, which are essential to initiate conditions favourable to an economic recovery in activity.

Team Leads are developing and made to follow training courses in order to strengthen their managerial skills and develop know-how in “distant social relations” and in the human support of employees (on WFH) in order to promote their well-being and arouse their highly destabilized human commitment. 

In addition to bringing a balance and a certain well-being in our life, it is a solution that places the individual at the heart of his priorities.Even at a distance, learners are considered and valued through the human support of the teaching teams made possible thanks to limitless interactivity.

It is precisely this interactivity that will break the isolation of people by promoting their mental health.Whatever the reasons for training, the goal remains the same: refocus the priorities of individuals by generating commitment and motivation. 

In addition to this, “talking cells” can be set up within companies to allow employees to express themselves continuously. Through these workshops, employees can put words into the problems they encounter. 

Between identity crisis, loss of motivation, or disengagement at work, the pandemic exacerbates the mental health of the Indian workforce and raises questions about the meaning of work in times of coronavirus.

At a time when remote work threatens the traditional communication that unites a team, the priority is now to support employees on the long journey towards well-being, which remains the only way to preserve the sustainability of companies.

-Shivani Sikri, Chief Nutritionist & Wellness Specialist 

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