Daily routines have shifted since the onset of the COVID-19, ushering in the new realities of remote work, temporary unemployment, and social isolation. Adapting to these recent changes has been difficult for all, bringing mental health challenges to the surface—an area that still faces much stigma. In response, the World Health Organization has encouraged people to normalize mental health challenges, stay informed, and help others.
Individual voices including prominent business leaders are also bringing their mental health challenges to light, showing that nobody is immune. Here are some of our favorite stories:
New Zealand has been a bright spot during the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 1,835 infections and 25 deaths at the time of this writing. Much of the credit for the response can be attributed to Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general of health, who has stood calmly alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during press conferences.
However, managing the pandemic hasn’t been easy for Dr. Bloomfield. He recently admitted to anxiety, fatigue, and imposter syndrome brought on by daily press conferences and constant worry. To make it through, Dr. Bloomfield relied on the presence of mind and focused on his years of medical training. It’s a lesson we can all learn from as we navigate our own mental health challenges during these times.
Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post, has also spoken up regarding mental health, citing her own experience of collapsing from exhaustion while building her site.
The experience was profound enough that it led her to found her current company, Thrive Global, which offers behavior change technology that directly addresses stress and burnout. During COVID-19 especially, Huffington has cited the need to emphasize mental health, calling individuals to limit their consumption of news and to get enough rest.
Since its founding, Blake Mycoskie’s Tom’s Shoes has given away 86 million shoes. While he accomplished many goals and made an impact on society, success left him burned out and feeling absent in his relationships with friends and family.
Worried about the increase of mental health issues and knowing that others were going through similar experiences, Mycoskie wanted to help. He created Madefor, a subscription-based startup helping people live their best lives with help from experts, from measuring the water they drink to keeping track of weight loss. He hopes that his journey will inspire others to work on themselves.
Mental health resources are not always readily accessible, so those with issues often miss out on treatment altogether, leading to prolonged challenges at work or school. As a result, some entrepreneurs are bridging that gap, and one, in particular, is on a mission to arm every student in the world with mental health resources.
Ananya Jain is a 21-year old Georgia Tech graduate and initially founded FullCircle as a startup to find ways to efficiently harvest renewable energy. While researching at Harvard, however, she noticed students faced serious mental health issues but couldn’t always get an on-demand appointment with a professional. So she pivoted the company towards solving this pervasive problem.
Jain and her team built a game that helps students take charge of their mental health in between their sessions with a professional. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning while ensuring the full privacy of the end-user. The team hopes to expand usage to every student around the world.
Police incidents in the US this year and the global response have run concurrent to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many minorities angry, frustrated, and sad—and placing more stress on daily work duties.
Mimconnect, a digital community founded by Netta Dobbins, helps minorities address their emotions with current events while also providing resources for building professional networks and finding job opportunities. In the past few months, Dobbins began offering BREATHE sessions, which are safe spaces to address employee anxieties, stresses, and workplace challenges in the context of the pandemic and ongoing societal issues. These concerns are then taken up to leadership to evaluate the next steps and action items.
It’s a tough time for all of us, wherever we work. Don’t be afraid to have these conversations in your organization. It’s a top priority as shown in our latest report, As Uncertainty Remains, Anxiety and Stress Reach a Tipping Point at Work.
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