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The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health.
According to a 2021 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy research organization, 53% of American adults have had their mental health negatively impacted because of stress linked to the pandemic. In the UK, the Centre for Mental Health expects half a million more people to experience poor mental health compared to a normal year, due to coronavirus.
On and off restrictions on travel and social life have left us feeling isolated and despondent; those working from home have had new pressures to deal with; and for key workers, the fear of catching the virus exacerbates anxiety.
Since many employers expect a long-term shift to remote working practices, tackling these mental health issues will be a key challenge for companies to overcome in the next few years.
How working from home affects mental health
The sudden shift to a remote work setup was surprisingly stressful for many employees, explains Dr Dominique Steiler, professor of people, organizations, and society at Grenoble School of Business. Dominique is also chair of Mindfulness, Well-Being at Work, and Economic Peace. His work involves supporting business leaders as they bring mental health and mindfulness initiatives into the workplace.
When the pandemic began, he observed a proliferation in workplace anxiety and depression. There are three ways working from home is damaging our mental health.
First, people seem to feel more alone without the necessary support they need, according to Dominique. The sudden lack of physical connection can leave workers feeling they have nowhere to turn when they feel stressed or anxious. It becomes more challenging to form the strong support network which is crucial for good mental health, Dominique emphasizes.
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