How to work mental health within the work environment?

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could be stressful for a lot of people. Fear and anxiety about the illness can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Imagine all the stress and anxiety that this disease causes us in addition to the day to day stress if you are working… Coping with stress will make you, the people you love, your community and the work environment stronger and will promote better mental health.


Each person reacts differently to stressful situations.

How you respond to the outbreak may depend on your background, the things that distinguish you from other people at work, and from the community in which you live.

People who may have stronger responses to crisis stress in the workplace include:

Older adults and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk if they get COVID-19 and must report to work every day.

People with a heavy workload, like first responders, people from the private sector who continue to operate, cleaning staff, staff who work in supermarkets, staff who work in hospitals, among others.

People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, such as doctors and other health care providers, or emergency response personnel.

People who have mental health conditions like substance abuse problems.


Stress and anxiety during an infectious disease outbreak in the workplace may include:

  • Fear and concern for your own health, that of your loved ones, coworkers, etc.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating, which will not help to be productive.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Increased consumption of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.


People with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue their treatment and be on the lookout for new or worsening symptoms.

Taking care of yourself and taking care of your peers and family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with stress can also make the work environment calmer.


Things you can do to help you:

  • From time to time, stop watching, reading, or listening to news, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can affect you.
  • Take care of your body. Take a deep breath, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy and well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Take time to relax outside of working hours.
  • Get up from your chair every 30 minutes and stretch. Try to do other activities that you enjoy.
  • Talk to people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. This may be your boss or Human Resources staff, as they can guide you about available employee assistance programs, such as mental health services.
  • Unfortunately, some workers may experience avoiding their families or community because of fear. This can make an already challenging situation much more difficult. If possible, staying connected to loved ones by video platforms, even through digital methods such as social media, is a way to keep in touch.


Call your healthcare provider if stress interferes with your daily activities for several days in a row.

Reduce stress on yourself and others. When you share accurate information about COVID-19, this can help people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.


For leaders or managers:

  • Keeping all staff protected from chronic stress and poor mental health during this response means that they will have a better ability to fulfill their roles.
  • Ensure that accurate information communications are provided to all staff.
  • Rotates workers from high-stress to lower-stress functions.
  • Associate inexperienced people with their more experienced colleagues. The buddy system helps provide support, monitor stress, and reinforce safety procedures.
  • Start, encourage, and monitor work breaks.
  • Implement flexible hours for workers who are directly affected or have family members affected by this stressful event.


OMS. (abril, 2020).  Coronavirua disese (COVID-2019) situations reports. Recuperado el 6 de abril de 2020 de https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/

CDC. (abril, 2020). Stress and Coping. Recuperado el 6 de abril de 2020 de https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety-sp.htmles

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