Ask a SHRM Knowledge Advisor | Mental Health in a Pandemic

Over the past year, I have received calls from many HR professionals who have experienced an increase in managers seeking assistance with mental health challenges among their staff. Employees are sometimes disconnected and disengaged, having unexpected verbal outbursts and being aggressive. 

The impact of the pandemic on mental health has been tremendous to include an increase in depression, bipolar disorder episodes, anxiety behaviors and other mental health issues. According to a recent survey from SHRM, “Nearly half (48 percent) of employed Americans report feeling mentally and physically exhausted at the end of the workday.” Work exhaustion coupled with demands at home may also be negatively impacting mental health. 

In these situations, HR does not have to manage these situations alone. Instead, it may encourage employees to utilize the company’s employee assistance program as well as the mental health benefits under the medical insurance plan. The National Helpline provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) may also be an option to share with staff for assistance. SAMHSA can be reached at the National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). 

Additional professional mental health services such as free virtual sessions that some companies provide may help employees to manage mental health episodes in our current climate. In addition to HR sharing these options with staff, the employer may post the SAMHSA’s National Helpline on the company intranet, the breakroom, the company newsletter as well as in the employee handbook. 

As an HR professional navigating through this pandemic myself, I realize firsthand the importance of mental health in our everyday life. Don’t neglect your mental health, be sure to take time out for your own well-being. It may be time to revisit your preventive-care appointments, schedule a full week off, delegate some tasks, take a bubble bath, read a book for fun, watch a movie or play board games with the family. 

If you want to know more about mental health or have other HR questions, we’d love to help! Give us a call or send an e-mail. We’re also available by chat. It’s one of the most valued benefits of SHRM membership! 

SHRM’s Ask an Advisor service is a member benefit through which SHRM’s HR Knowledge Advisors share guidance, real-life personal and professional experiences, and resources to assist members with their HR-related inquiries. 


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