The Union of Health and Environment Workers is strongly focused on all matters that concern our members, in particular the mental health of our members during this stressful time.
We know the current situation of isolation can exacerbate existing mental health conditions and create feelings of anxiety and stress that would not be there under regular circumstances. These feelings that accompany isolation are many due to our natural inclination to be social and our unique environment and personal needs.
In these times, social interaction is limited beyond what we are used to.
- Visits with friends are limited to contact through telephone or electronic devices; no physical contact or hugs.
- Going shopping includes physical distancing, hand sanitizing and seeing people wearing gloves and masks.
- Not being able to visit loved ones in long term care facilities and trying to cope with the inability to determine their physical well-being.
- Working from home while children and loved ones are also home and learning to cope with, no actual office space or facilities, lack of privacy, sporadic intranet or internet connections and the need to divide time between domestic needs and the requirement to fulfill work requirements/performance.
The stress and anxiety of this isolation is real and can present in many different forms, such as:
- Feeling of losing control of one’s self and one’s feelings (such as temper)
- Unhealthy eating
- Reduction in physical activity
- Problems with decision making
- Reduced memory recall and storage
- Increased domestic and substance abuse
- Reduced ability to remain professional in unprofessional settings
All of the above factors remind us that self-care is vital to our mental health, in particular as we all cope with the sudden and complicated side effects of the pandemic.
Remember to take time for ourselves – a few minutes to pause and just breathe, enjoy the coffee/tea or whatever relaxes you and maybe find a new pastime that is just for yourself.
Remember to maintain outside contact that is friendly and positive, even if limited!
Remember that professional assistance is quickly available through the employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). They are there to listen and help you work through whatever issues you might have, whether for yourself or a family member. Do not feel embarrassed, uncomfortable or ashamed for reaching out – the services are paid for by the employer and made available for you to use when needed. Thank this opportunity if you feel the need to utilize those services and restore your well-being!
We want everyone to know You are not alone! If you have questions about how the Employee Assistance Program works or how your workplace future will look after the isolation ends, please reach out to your union colleagues. We are there to assist!
To contact Employee Assistance Program (EAP):
- phone: 1-800-268-7708, or 1-800-567-5803 (TTY – for people with hearing impairments)