30th Mar, 2020 Read time 3 minutes

COVID-19 and managing mental health support for employees

This article has been provided by Tap into Safety.

The COVID-19 crisis has organisations turned upside down, trying to continue day-to-day business and manage highly anxious employees. There’s social-distancing and self-isolating procedures to follow. There’s a ban on all non-essential travel. There’s an increase in personal hygiene requirements.

Many organisations are struggling to set up working from home arrangements with IT infrastructure under pressure and download speeds reduced through the enormous impact on home networks.

However, one area that has started to surface is employee mental health. Some organisations are beginning to grow concerned about the impact of employees working from home and losing social connectedness. Others are questioning with businesses closing down and employees losing their jobs whether the rate of suicide will increase.

These are very valid concerns because when people become afraid, their mental health is affected, and their worries become a critical focus. And as an organisation, the last thing you need as we emerge from COVID-19 is a substantial mental health crisis. Now more than ever, organisations must look after their employee’s mental health.

Your employees need to learn coping strategies to address anxious feelings, and they must know where they can seek help if issues become overwhelming.

Your Supervisors and Managers are also at risk because they are likely to be approached more by their teams with escalating mental health concerns due to COVID-19.

But how do you do provide training and support that a distance?


Safely deliver mental health training online

The escalation of COVID-19 has significantly changed the way organisations should train their employees in the future. Mental health training supports your employees because it equips them with what they can do when they are feeling alone, anxious and stressed. Your employees must keep up their social connectedness when they are self-isolating. Training helps to alleviate depressive thoughts that are a known precursor to suicide.

Wherever possible, they should NOT be undertaking training activities face-to-face or in the classroom. By continuing with traditional training delivery methods, organisations are unnecessarily bringing people together, and the Australian Federal Government are requesting to discontinue non-essential gatherings and restricting numbers within a set space.

It’s time for a re-think of how you offer training to employees and what else you can do to keep them psychologically safe. Whilst group training is not permitted in many countries and increases the risk of the spread of the disease, this can be avoided thanks to the substantial online training available.

As an organisation, you can make changes to increase the mental health training and support you offer your employees right now.  The last thing you need as we work through this COVID-19 emergency is a looming mental health crisis. If organisations focus on training employees on coping strategies that they can immediately use, it will go some way to instil resilience. However, due to social-distancing and self-isolating requirements, they must move to technology to help and use online mental health training as an alternative to face-to-face methods.

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