Now that the pandemic is winding down in most states and organizations are reopening, it's time to recognize that returning employees may have mental health issues. Teresa Williams, MSW, LCSW managing partner at Home Care Connect discusses these issues in a post on the Work Comp Wire website.
- Uncertainties about the virus and its financial impact produced anxiety.
- Working from home could result in feelings of isolation, conflict between work and family responsibilities, and domestic violence.
- In the workplace, retail workers faced conflict with shoppers sometimes resulting in violence; healthcare workers dealt with lack of equipment and supplies, heavy caseloads and patient deaths.
According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention study, almost 41% of American adults reported mental or behavioral health conditions such as anxiety, depression, trauma or stress. Overeating, alcohol consumption and drug overdoses were common.
Mental health disorders contribute to physical ill health and result in absenteeism, higher healthcare costs and lower productivity in the workplace. Employees with mental distress have been calculated to cost employers about $15,000 per person per year.
It's up to employers to deal with these problems. Recognize ongoing issues with depression and anxiety; grief over lost family members; financial distress; and substance abuse. Organizations with employee assistance programs should make sure they're used; if they don't have them, create programs or provide a list of community resources. Mental health is as important as physical safety.