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Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. It can depend on a person’s personality and experiences, their social and economic circumstances, and the availability of local resources.
Reactions to the COVID-19 situation may include:
- Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover. Connect with family, friends, and others in your community online or over the phone. Take care of yourself and each other, and know when and how to seek help.
Things you can do to support yourself:
- Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19, and take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis continually.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Find ways to connect with others through phone calls, video calls, or online. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member.
- Try to focus on the positive.
- Seek help if you are feeling depressed or anxious.
Things you can do to support your employees:
- Let employees know what HR policies you have in place to protect them and their job if they get sick. Keep them updated if anything changes.
- Empathize and reassure. Let them know you understand that the situation is stressful.
- Provide resources. Make sure your employees know about mental health resources available to them, including if your employee benefits include counsellors/psychologists or an Employee Assistance Program.
- Be understanding. Recognize that stress may be overwhelming some employees. Be understanding if they need to take a mental health day or attend medical appointments. Encourage them to take breaks to manage stress and practice self-care by listening to music, doing relaxation exercises, etc.
Bullying & Harassment
In stressful times, people may not behave as they normally would. This may escalate mental health concerns and/or lead to violence, bullying, or harassment.
Employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to minimize or eliminate the risk of violence, bullying, and harassment in the workplace, whether the source is an employee or a member of the public. Be aware that these can take the form of swearing, verbal abuse, pranks, arguments, spreading rumours, property damage, vandalism, and more.
See the Government of Alberta’s Workplace Harassment and Violence webpage for more information.
Preventing a Hostile Work Environment
It is important that everyone in the workplace (employees, supervisors, contractors, etc.) understands their duties to prevent bullying and harassment. Take all complaints of bullying and harassment seriously and ensure you have clear policy about reporting procedures if it should happen.
Mental Health Resources
- Mental Health Help Line (available 24/7 to provide advice and referrals to community supports near you): 1-877-303-2642
- Addiction Help Line
- Help in tough times (Alberta Health Services)
- Text4Hope (Alberta Health Services)
- Mental health and coping with COVID-19 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC])
- Talking with children about COVID-19 (CDC)
- 6 tips to respond to employee anxiety about COVID-19 (Canadian Mental Health Association)
- Tactics for maintaining mental fitness during the COVID-19 pandemic (Weekly webinars by AMHSA, CSSE, Howatt HR Consulting & AUMA)
- Mental health & COVID-19 (Series of videos by the Conference Board of Canada)
- Mental health and psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic (World Health Organization)