Two years have now passed since the start of the pandemic. The world is still not virus-free and few of us would have expected its longevity. While the full impact of the COVID-19 virus isn’t yet known, both every day experiences and scientific research suggests that we are experiencing a major scale mental health issue. Recovering our mental health in a post-covid world means assessing where we are today in order to move us as individuals and society into a healthier future.
Mental health in the workplace
Mental health accommodations in the workplace are mandatory by law, but fresh attention is being given to a wider population, particularly for issues like burnout, depression, and anxiety. These issues have skyrocketed. According to consulting firm McKinsey and Company, productivity, employee engagement, and morale reportedly improved during the pandemic, but mental health declined, with burnout being the most common issue. Forbes reported that experts anticipated “a tsunami of psychiatric illness” in the wake of quarantining and distancing. At the one year point of the pandemic, a CDC study found that depression had quadrupled.
The majority of employers have adopted a fully remote or in a hybrid arrangement, so the challenge for employers is knowing how to support a hybrid workplace. Improving mental health in a post-covid world includes wellbeing programming that supports whole person health with specific attention to mental health resources.
Mental health at home
The line between work life and home life has become increasingly blurred. The benefits of a hybrid workplace are many, but the downside has been equally documented. An increase in employee productivity has been offset by the decline in mental health as employees struggle with isolation and loneliness without in-person collaboration. Even without a specific diagnosis of depression or anxiety, much of the world is trying to cope with languishing. It’s probable that many, if not all, people in your home are languishing. What does languishing mean? Licensed professional counselor, Shemiah Derrick says, “Languishing is apathy, a sense of restlessness or feeling unsettled or an overall lack of interest in life or the things that typically bring you joy.” Unlike depression which can often immobilize you in daily life, languishing keeps you going through the motions. Keyes adds that, “Languishing is neither feeling good nor sad,” he says. “It’s feeling really nothing.”
Languishing can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide, so it’s important to pay attention to how you’re coping with languishing and seek professional help when needed. In yourself and in others, it is of the utmost importance to keep ourselves in healthy places emotionally and mentally. Improving mental health in a post-covid world means noticing when you see potential warning signs of languishing moving toward more serious mental health struggles like chronic burnout or depression and getting help.
Mental health in the world
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide and believes this is just the “tip of the iceberg.” On top of the pandemic, the world is experiencing increased tension and division around issues of race, politics, religion and more. Every dimension of wellbeing has taken a toll. Improving mental health in a post-covid world starts with kindness. Being kind improves the physical, emotional, intrapersonal, and relational wellbeing of those who give it and those who receive it.
The state of our mental health in a post-covid world is observable in the workplace, home, and world at-large. While the news isn’t great, we have the power to change our own lives. Approaching this properly equipped with the best information and resources, along with a willingness to talk about it, we can make necessary adjustments in all of these spaces to build a healthier future.