Employee Mental Health & Wellbeing

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With the reestablishment of lockdown in Victoria, there have been many different ways these events may have impacted on your personal mental health and wellbeing, or that of your employees.

Some of these include:

Increased levels of stress

This pandemic does not discriminate and no-one is immune from the increased stressors stemming from its consequences, its unprecedented nature and uncertain course.  

Some industries are now much busier than would have otherwise been expected – essential services for instance – aside from increased demand for these services, societal expectations that these roles and functions continue to perform irrespective of the risk does put greater stress on these employees who may also be at risk of fatigue. Other industries may have seen significant downturn and reduced demand eg travel and hospitality. Stressors for these workers include job losses and the obvious financial impact of the downturn.  

Enforced regulatory change has also created other stressors that we did not necessarily have in our lives a year ago such as the impact of home schooling, working from home, information overload from coverage of the pandemic on social and news media.

Increased levels of stress can impact our health in so many ways:

  1. poorer mental health overall, a risk of fatigue, higher risk anxiety, depression and burnout
  2. disturbed sleep patterns which has all sorts of consequences
  3. increased self-medication with alcohol and social or prescribed drugs
  4. increased rates of domestic violence
  5. aggravation of pre-existing chronic illnesses
  6. increased risk for other lifestyle diseases eg heart attack and stroke
  7. a negative impact on relationships

Grief

Those families directly affected by someone who is unwell or perhaps even having lost someone to this pandemic. The ceremonial aspect of our grieving process has also been impacted by our social restrictions so we may be more confined in our grief.  

There is also a grief associated with lost hopes, dreams and aspirations which may not come to fruition (at least not for now) as a result of this pandemic eg.  Weddings, overseas holidays, planned lifestyle changes.  We should not underestimate how this can impact us.  Some people have worked hard for months and years for these aspirations and to have them ‘put on ice’ indefinitely is a big psychological adjustment to make.  

Increased social isolation

Whilst some people relish time on their own for others it can feel downright lonely and for others who are seemingly coping well with it, they may still have moments of despair when they realise how much they are missing more physical social connection.  

The risks associated with social isolation include mental health risks as well as not necessarily having access to timely medical and other supports when we need it.  Social connection confers a number of benefits to our wellbeing – particularly mental health – and in these days every effort needs to be made to think of innovative ways to ‘stay in touch’ and ‘be there’ for each other despite the physical challenges.

Reduced physical exercise

We know exercise is good for us on all sorts of levels to maintain and improve our physical and mental health.  Whilst it is absolutely possible for maintain fitness levels with an indoor regime, it does take motivation and discipline. There are a number of forms of group and indoor exercise which are just not possible to do right now. This may well result in reduced activity levels for all those who don’t compensate for this and as a result their physical and mental health will be somewhat compromised. 

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