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Hilarapy: Back to Work Mental Health Care: Recognizing and Reducing Stress Due to Reintegration to the Workplace

This article builds on the idea of protecting mental health during reintegration in the workplace. It provides some advice on how to meet the challenge of returning to the workplace and mentions a bit about what employers are doing to make the transition easier.

Returning to the work environment after the COVID-19 Pandemic is, at the very least, going to take some time for everyone to adapt. According to a poll by the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 50 percent of Canadians feel that their mental health has worsened since the pandemic started. There have been similar statistics showing that people felt both nervous and anxious about returning to work now that the pandemic is under control. While it is no doubt that the pandemic has affected the world negatively, returning to ‘normal’ might also be just as shocking to peoples’ mental health.

Preparing Yourself for Reintegration

The thought of going back to a regular workplace might seem daunting now, but there are many ways to prepare yourself. It’s important to remember that this is a crazy time for everyone: you are not alone.

For those who are returning full time to your workplace, try sticking to routines that are familiar. Start your morning as you would any other (though perhaps a bit earlier). Treat this like any other workday that just happens to be in a different location.

When you go about your day, keep in mind that small steps are better than no steps. “Successful people set achievable goals,” so the saying goes. Do things that are realistic. If that means starting simple, that’s okay. It’s better to ease into something than take on too much at once and risk your mental health. Pay attention to your limits and keep in mind there are always mental health resources available to help you.

What Are Employers Doing?

As reintegration plans take effect, many employers are offering flexible hours and full or partial remote work opportunities. Many workers have expressed that they enjoy and even prefer working from home. It’s worth talking to your employer if this is something you see benefitting you. While compromises are sure to come up, hopefully this will lead to a better work environment for everyone. Along with reintegration plans, many employers have implemented new and improved mental health resources within their workplace to help employees in this new venture. These may include additional training for supervisors to recognize at-risk employees, Employee Assistance Programs, providing mental health resources in the workplace, offering and participating in mental health workshops and classes, including health coverage in health plans, and improving conversations around employee mental health.

This pandemic has pretty much blown ‘normal’ out of the water. Clearly, the effects are substantial, but this provides us with an opportunity to create a new normal. At the very least, we have gained a better understanding of mental health and a better understanding of ourselves. This is a chance to create a comfortable work environment for everyone.

References

Boland, Brodie et al. “Reimagining the office and work life after COVID-19.” McKinsey and Company. Andrea Alexander, Kurt Chauviere, Joseph Cyriac, Alastair Green, and Vaibhav Gujral, 8 June 2020, https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/reimagining-the-office-and-work-life-after-covid-19#.

“Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Tips.” Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 16 June 2021, www.ccohs.ca/covid19/preventing-stigma.

Diamantakos, Rinna. “Stressed about returning to in-person work? Experts offer tips on how to make the transition easier.” CTV News. 1 June 2021, https://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/stressed-about-returning-to-in-person-work-experts-offer-tips-on-how-to-make-the-transition-easier-1.5451474.

“Health and Safety Report.” Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 29 June 2021, vol. 19 no. 6 www.ccohs.ca/newsletters/hsreport/issues/current.html?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=HSReport_Apr2020_English&utm_source=Envoke-HS-REPORT_ENGLISH&utm_term=Health-and-Safety-Report-%7C-Vol#hsreport-ontopic.

“Mental Health in Canada: Covid-19 and Beyond.” Camh, Roslyn Shields, July 2020, www.camh.ca/-/media/files/pdfs—public-policy-submissions/covid-and-mh-policy-paper-pdf.pdf

Murphy, Murray et al. “Returning to work: COVID-19 and mental health considerations.” Stewart McKelvey, 11 May 2020 https://www.stewartmckelvey.com/thought-leadership/returning-to-work-covid-19-and-mental-health-considerations/.

“Protecting Mental Health in the Workplace.” LSCS Law Employment & Labour Lawyers, 24 Aug. 2020, www.levittllp.com/protecting-mental-health-in-the-workplace/.

By Hilarapy Editorial Staff. Hilarapy is a leading comedy therapy organization. For more information on how comedy therapy can help you or someone you know, go to hilarapy.com

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