The Keenan Blog

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Mental Health and COVID Resources for Employers | Keenan

May 05, 2022 by Kathy Espinoza

Side by side with its spread as an infectious disease, COVID has also brought mental health to the forefront of public health concerns. Fear and worry about the illness, grief over lost loved ones, job loss, and economic insecurity relating to the pandemic have all made coping with COVID stressful for everyone. Adults and children alike may be susceptible to mental and emotional reactions from their experience over the past two years. A successful recovery from the pandemic will include attending to our mental well-being.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a national observance in support of those affected by mental illness. Among the goals of Mental Health Awareness Month is to provide education and advocacy toward an improved mental health care system. Employers play an important role both as benefit plan sponsors and in providing a positive, stigma-free environment toward mental health. Physical, mental and emotional well-being is directly correlated to employee productivity and organizational morale.

Mental health concerns are far more common than many of us realize. One in five adults in our country experience mental illness each year, but less than half get treatment. Serious mental illness affects one in twenty American adults every year, with more than one-third of those individuals going untreated. These gaps in treatment impact the work of employees and contribute to serious workplace safety issues, from increased injury risk to violence. The stressful effects and tragic results of the COVID pandemic have added another layer to the existing mental health challenges for our communities.

AP Keenan recently hosted a free webinar series focusing on the mental health needs of school personnel, teachers, and students through the ongoing pressures that COVID-19 has created. The links in this article will take you to a web page where you can view them on-demand if you were unable to join us for the earlier live presentations. This series of three webinars was presented by Dr. Scott Poland, a recognized expert in mental health, school safety, youth suicide, bullying, and school crisis prevention/intervention. The topics covered by this series include:

Mental Health Check-Up for School Personnel (Click here for recording)

School district personnel continue to work diligently to keep schools open, protect staff and students' health and safety, and deliver the best education possible while also taking care of themselves and their own families. Balancing it all continues to be a challenge. As we prepare to move from "pandemic" to "endemic," this webinar will offer a mental health check-in and reminders. Dr. Poland discusses coping skills that administrators and staff can utilize to help reduce stress, improve balance, build resiliency, and give hope for all students and staff.

Kids, COVID and Mental Health (Click here for recording)

This session discusses the recently released surgeon general's report on student mental health, how to identify when students are at risk, how to engage students in a mental health conversation, and identify resources that are available to help. We also address the impact and influence of technology and social media on students' mental health and how technology can be leveraged in providing a community of support.

How Parents and Teachers Can Help Kids Cope with COVID (Click here for recording)

Our students' technology usage and screen time have significantly increased over the past two years. This session will focus on stress management for students, positive digital citizenship, and influencing positive online behavior. Additionally, we will explore the potential negative impact technology can have on students and ways to address when too much digital media is the problem.

We hope these educational resources can be of help to you, your coworkers, students, families and friends. Continue to be safe, both physically and emotionally. Working together for better mental health, we can get through this.

About Kathy Espinoza
Kathy Espinoza, Assistant Vice President of Ergonomics & Safety, is a Board Certified Professional Ergonomist with a Master of Business Administration and a master’s degree in Work Science/Physiology. She has been with AP Keenan since 2003 providing injury prevention training to office personnel, hospital workers (clinical and non-clinical settings,) Special Education staff and custodial, grounds, and EVS employees.