Every one of us is feeling extreme stress. We’re working hard to maintain physical distance from people outside of our immediate living groups while struggling to accommodate childcare and elder care, and navigate through disrupted work and school schedules.
By now, most people have created new routines for working, eating, sleeping, and getting exercise. However, many probably haven’t figured out a routine that incorporates good mental health practices. This is concerning especially since we may be fighting this pandemic for a while. Depression and anxiety will be on the rise.
More than ever, executives need to step up and be leaders. They need to promote and support good mental health. Though most executives are likely not experts in mental health, leaders can be experts in knowing what mental health resources are available and how their colleagues, clients, and community can benefit from them.
Take care of yourself and your family.
Leaders can only be effective if they take care of their own mental health first. It’s impossible to help others when you’re not your best self. Stay socially connected with friends, family, colleagues, and the community using digital tools. Visit your loved ones through closed windows.
Canadian Mental Health Association: Pay close attention to the 6 tips the CMHA has prepared to help people manage their mental health during a crisis. It includes seeking information from reliable sources only, limiting that information to short periods, and not setting push notifications for that information.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: CAMH offers 16 useful strategies for maintaining mental wellness during the pandemic.
Take care of your team.
Employee Assistance Programs: If your company has an Employee Assistance Program, now is the time to remind your colleagues about the types of services they can access anonymously. Encourage them to take advantage of the resources or ask you for help navigating those resources.
Share other mental health support resources with your team. So much is available digitally which is particularly helpful when we’re maintaining physical distance. Here are a few we’ve found helpful:
- Center for Addiction and Mental Health: Many of us have children who may not understand what’s happening or who may be fearful and anxious. Let nervous parents know that CAMH has prepared tips on how parents can talk to children.
- Anxiety Canada: AC offers a variety of written, audio, and video tools and resources to help manage anxiety. They also offer MindShift™ CBT, a free mobile app using scientifically proven strategies rooted in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
- Mood Disorders Society of Canada: The MDSC has developed a mobile app called Moodie. It’s not a replacement for mental health care but it could be suggested to someone who is already using other mental illness treatments.
- Better Help: This website offers messaging, chat, phone, and video access to professional, licensed counselors.
- Big White Wall: Users can take advantage of an anonymous peer-to-peer support group.
- Mental Health First Aid: Consider becoming trained to offer Mental Health First Aid. This may become particularly useful in the next few months and is an extremely worthwhile long-term investment.
Take care of your broader community
Now more than ever we need leaders to encourage of all us to do our part to get this pandemic under control. And, when we emerge from it, we need to commit to actions that will support and strengthen our communities.
We’re committing to supporting our community of business leaders through Headway for Healthy Minds at Work, a movement we launched in 2019 to encourage business leaders to champion mental health best practices in their workplaces. If you need additional workplace-related resources, the Resource Roadmap we built as part of the Headway for Healthy Minds program is available for download. It lists thirty different types of organizations that may be able to help you including Mental Health Works, Guarding Minds at Work, and Working Through It.
Most important, if you or someone you know is facing a mental health crisis, call 911. If the issue is not life-threatening and emotional support would help, please call Crisis Services Canada at their toll-free number 1-833-456-4566 or text them at 45645.