Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day! An initiative to end the stigma around mental health. The issue of mental health amid COVID-19 and so many employees working from home, dealing with a sense of isolation is now more critical than ever.  

The most crucial issue with mental health is that it is something people are uncomfortable discussing. This is because of the common myths that surround mental health. Here are just a few untrue myths: 

  1. Mental illness is a sign of weakness: 
    Mental illness is not the ‘fault’ of the person with the illness. It’s not because they are weak or lazy or damaged goods. Environmental and biological factors mainly cause mental illness. 
  2. If you have mental health issues, you cannot perform your work: 
    There are plenty of productive and high integrity workers contributing to their organization’s success, or they may even be entrepreneurs running their businesses.
  3. Get over it: 
    Just as anyone would not choose to have a physical illness, those with mental health issues do not choose their mental illness. And ‘getting over it’ is not an effective cure. There are effective medical and psychiatric treatments for those with mental illnesses.  

In addition to providing medical benefits that give Employees access to necessary services, here are some other things Employers can do to help: 

  1. Keep communication open: 
    Working from home certainly has its perks, but for those who are single or who work in a home office, while other family members are in separate households with stay-at-home orders, loneliness can be a factor. Isolation may lead to depression. Keep communication flowing and while you may not want to overdo it, check in with employees who may typically have less external contact during the day. 
  2. Remind employees to take breaks and keep moving: 
    Employees working from home need a routine that involves movement, a chance to get outdoors (in place of a commute), and regular breaks away from the computer screen. Encourage and remind employees to move regularly and feel comfortable with not sitting and staring at the computer screen for 8-hours straight. 
  3. Find fun things to do online with staff: 
    Working in an office allows employees to socialize, celebrate birthdays, and have company-sponsored lunches and casual days. This creates a gap to fill when employees are strictly working from home. Online activities can include fun, interactive training exercises, and purely social online meetings with trivia games and other activities that allow employees to interact with each other that doesn’t have to be 100% work-related. 

Employees spend a significant part of their life working and creating value for the organization’s stakeholders. Employers can give back by providing the necessary benefits for physical health and mental health. Working on creating healthy, fun, and productive work environments devoid of the stigma surrounding mental health issues is the goal of the best organizations that attract high performing talent. 

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