The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the physical, mental, and psychological state of many employees. While it has traumatized many individuals, it has affected the economy and businesses too.
Many employers have been forced to mend the working policies to align with employee health and safety, and social distancing norms. Despite the efforts to prevent the spread of the pandemic, the new changes have become the root cause of many stressors to many employees.
Many studies have reported the rising mental health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health issues, including symptoms of depression, have reportedly increased three-fold in US adults.
A JAMA study by researchers from the University of Chicago and Boston University found a huge jump in depression symptoms from 8.5% before the pandemic to almost 28% after March 2020.
The COVID-19 and Life Stressors Impact on Mental Health and Well-being survey was conducted on 1470 participants during the COVID-19 period of March 2020 – April 2020, while the pre-COVID group included 5065 participants, whose data was collected in 2017-2018.
The outcomes of this study were similar to many other studies about the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and depression. While only a few people did not show any prevalent symptoms, most of them had more than one symptom.
The psychological impact was 50% higher in the lower-income group who had their household savings less than $5,000, and who are more likely to be exposed to stressors. Regardless of age, gender, or income, the prevalence of mental health symptoms was higher in all the respondent categories.
People who had lower social or economic resources, or had more exposure to stressors like job risk, financial crunches, etc., were more likely to develop depression symptoms.
The study also revealed that there was an increase in depression symptoms in cases recorded after COVID-19 started, compared to the previous traumatic events. This clearly indicated the pervading influence of COVID-19 on mental health and depression-like symptoms.
Many other studies have similarly proven the impact of the pandemic and its social distancing norms on mental wellness as they are known to increase the risk of acquiring anxiety, PTSD, or other mental health issues. Few other studies have also reported a fall in the mental health risks as normalcy resumes with businesses reopening.
Employee Wellness Strategies At The Workplace
Although employers are taking measures to secure employee health and wellness, especially mental health concerns, it ultimately depends on the employees themselves to take care of their wellbeing.
Studies have proven that with the right employee engagement strategies and corporate wellness programs, employee mental health can be improved. Employers can offer corporate wellness programs that focus on improving mental and emotional wellbeing, while boosting employee engagement and workplace wellness.
Though the global situation cannot be changed currently, employers can do their bit to secure employee health and wellness, and employees can engage to ensure health, safety, and productivity in all aspects.