The emotions and feelings resulting from COVID-19 have the potential to greatly impact employees’ physical and mental health. Everyone is experiencing changes, and we are all together in navigating these uncertain times.

It is important to remember that different groups of employees may be experiencing intense emotions as they navigate their own unique circumstances:

  • Employees challenged by remotely working from home
  • Employees who continue to report to work onsite and who are facing ongoing daily uncertainty about personal safety
  • Employees who have been directly impacted by a loss of income in the household
  • Employees who are navigating having children at home
  • Employees who have been, or whose family members have, developed COVID-19

To address these challenges during this difficult time, the principles of Mental Health First Aid may provide some direction. Mental Health First Aid, a skills-based training course, teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The goal is not to diagnose but to identify and help those who need support. By using Mental Health First Aid basics, managers can recognize and support employees in distress by following four steps:

1. Identify

Identify the signs that result from distress symptoms, for example, lateness, increased accidents or mistakes, trouble making decisions, irritability or poor work quality.

2. Connect with the employee

Initiate the conversation with open ended questions and invite honesty. Listen when the employee responds. Take their responses seriously, stay calm and don’t interrupt. Offer your support.

3. Use resources available

Please remember, in the case of immediate danger or suicidal thoughts or plans, call 911. Encourage appropriate or needed action, educate yourself on resources available and determine the next step. The next step might include the employee contacting the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) directly or supporting the employee by contacting the EAP together, if the employee wants this level of support.

4. Follow-up

Ensure you circle back to the employee in a timely manner to touch base on their well-being and action steps taken. Stay in touch and continue to show your ongoing support.

Please remember, in the case of immediate danger or suicidal thoughts or plans, call 911.

Resources available:

Please be advised that any and all information, comments, analysis, and/or recommendations set forth above relative to the possible impact of COVID-19 on potential insurance coverage or other policy implications are intended solely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. As an insurance broker, we have no authority to make coverage decisions as that ability rests solely with the issuing carrier. Therefore, all claims should be submitted to the carrier for evaluation. The positions expressed herein are opinions only and are not to be construed as any form of guarantee or warranty. Finally, given the extremely dynamic and rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, comments above do not take into account any applicable pending or future legislation introduced with the intent to override, alter or amend current policy language.

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