With much of America’s workforce working from home, managers and company leaders are evaluating employee mental health .
PESA hosted a webinar facilitated by Schlumberger on April 15 with clinical psychologist Dr. Janice Beal, Beal Counseling, who shed light on the challenge of supporting the mental health of employees given the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After opening remarks from PESA President Leslie Beyer, Engagement Committee Member Marie Caekebeke, Director ESG Performance & Engagement, Schlumberger, addressed the importance of creating an inclusive workspace with regard to mental health.
Dr. Beal provided attendees with an overview of mental health and wellness, and its importance in the workplace. She described the challenges affecting the utilization of mental health services, such as social stigma, and secrecy and shame. She emphasized, however that the pandemic can heighten existing issues or trigger new ones.
[su_quote cite=”Dr. Janice Beal, Beal Counseling”]“Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with this stress will make you, the people you care about and your community stronger.” [/su_quote]
As Dr. Beal described the various detrimental ways the current pandemic could affect both mental and physical health, she also emphasized how being mindful of the two can lead to better self-care and better coping skills.
“Everyone reacts differently to stress,” she said. ”This includes the stress associated with a pandemic. Children and teenagers deal differently from first responders who deal differently from the elderly and immunocompromised and so on. It is important for leaders to remember these different situations.”
Dr. Beal described conditions such as depression and anxiety and gave advice to leaders on the call to differentiate normal worries from levels of distress that are cause for concern. She also made recommendations for coping mechanisms with a specific focus on those working from home:
- Take breaks from watching the news. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Recognize your best work time frames and work when you know you work best.
- Prioritize the challenging task first.
- Make use of technology. There are apps that can help with relaxation techniques, meditation, soothing sounds or exercise.
Dr. Beal suggested making time to unwind through enjoyable activities and hobbies, connecting with others, keeping an eye on mental and physical wellness, deep breathing, stretching, healthy eating, plenty of sleep, exercise and avoiding things like alcohol and drugs.
For leaders, Dr. Beal offered techniques for talking to their teams, including asking open-ended questions, which provide multiple benefits. She also provided tips for managers, including:
- Stay connected to your team without being a micromanager, and show genuine concern
- Be approachable without being intrusive
- Be transparent about best practices and resources available to your team without singling anyone out individually
- Ensure conversations are a two-way exchange
- Practice listening
- Encourage the employee to come up with solutions that work for them
Dr. Beal provided online, telephone and written resources for participants to manage mental health concerns for themselves and their teams.
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For more information about PESA’s diversity and inclusion efforts, contact Director Membership Services Carolynn Henriquez.
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES & SUPPORT GROUPS
- Employee Assistant Programs (EAP)
- Insurance Companies (Behavioral Health or Mental Health)
- Harris Country COVID Hotline: 713 790-7000
- National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK or Text MHA to 741741
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- National Eating Disorders Association
- O.A.S.I.S.@MAAP (Autism and Asperger Syndrome) support group
- Overeaters Anonymous
- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
- Postpartum Support International (National 24-hour Postpartum Depression Helpline 1.800.944.4PPD)
- Anon International Family Groups
- Sex Addicts Anonymous
- Self Mutilators Anonymous
- Dual Recovery Anonymous
- Emotions Anonymous
- Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
- Gamblers Anonymous
- Gift from Within
- Hospice Foundation of America
- International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation
- Recovery International
- Adult Children of Alcoholics
- Alzheimer’s Association
- American Association of Retired Persons Grief and Loss Information
- American Association of Suicidology
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Association of America peer-to-peer support group
- Attention Deficit Disorder Association
- Autism Society of America
- The Balanced Mind Foundation
- Brain Injury Association of America Caregiver Action Network
- Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)