Focus on mental health

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Workers might be facing a number of issues during the COVID-19 crisis that can have an impact on mental health, including furloughs and layoffs, social isolation, financial hardships and worries, and health concerns for themselves and their families.

“I’ve heard it said that the next pandemic wave may be mental health,” said Marissa J. Levine, a professor at the University of South Florida, during an April 14 webinar on mental health hosted by NSC. “Honestly, I’m concerned about that. It’s affected every state, every one of us, in some way.”

Employees might be getting information from numerous, and sometimes unreliable, sources at this time. “It’s very difficult, in these anxious times, to catch peoples’ attention,” Eric Goplerud, chair of the board of directors for the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, said during the webinar. “There are 11 words which will help you communicate and break through the anxiety: A simple message, repeated often, from a variety of trusted sources.”

Levine recommended employers and managers follow and share coping strategies from sources such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which suggests taking breaks from consuming news reports related to the pandemic, taking time to unwind, working on physical fitness and social connections, setting goals and priorities, and focusing on the facts.

For employers, human resources teams and safety leaders, Goplerud encouraged more communication about benefits programs, such as an employee assistance program. Leaders also should encourage more interaction with benefits vendors.

Employers and managers can share honest updates about COVID-19 while also providing a positive outlook for the path forward.

“There’s a real opportunity here for focusing on the positives without minimizing the issues that we’re dealing with,” Levine said. “Having a can-do attitude and the power of positive thinking are needed now more than ever.”

Surgeon general to employers: Ramp up your worker well-being initiatives

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Photo: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’s

Washington — U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams is urging employers to make worker well-being a higher priority, in an article published online Oct. 10 in Public Health Reports – the official journal of the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service.

“Healthy and happy employees have a better quality of life, a lower risk of disease and injury, increased work productivity, and a greater likelihood of contributing to their communities than employees with poorer well-being,” Adams writes, citing a 2015 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.  Read more

Survey shows millennials want more wellness resources

Nearly 4 out of 5 millennial workers say their employers should do more to support their health and well-being, including making resources more readily available, according to the findings of a recent survey.

National polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs, on behalf of Welltok – an employee health and well-being software provider – surveyed more than 1,000 full-time workers, of whom 330 were millennials (age 21-34), in December 2018.

Results show that 78% of the millennial workers said companywide health and well-being initiatives are falling short.

Other findings:

  • 44% of the millennial workers said occupational stress is negatively impacting their lives.
  • 51% have seriously considered changing their work situation because of stress.
  • Among the support resources millennial workers want most, emotional health (75%) led the way, followed by financial (73%), physical (70%) and social health (64%).

In an Aug. 8 press release, Welltok recommends that, in addition to making resources more easily available, employers should use incentives to motivate millennial workers to participate in wellness programs. Among the top rewards the millennials said they would be motivated by are extra vacation time (64%), wellness benefits such as gym memberships (56%) and flexible work schedules (53%).