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Support and Advice for Employees During COVID-19

As we all we look for ways to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are faced with frequent news updates and it is natural to experience some degree of concern, fear, stress or anxiety.

It is important that, as the situation continues to unfold, we support and care for each other. The University encourages faculty, staff, librarians and their families who may need additional support to reach out for help (see contact info below). There are a variety of services available, both internally and externally.

Self-Awareness

Acknowledge that you will have a range of emotions and responses related to COVID-19 which may include concern for loved ones in affected regions, for your own health and for other loved ones who may be vulnerable.

These emotions and responses could include:

  • Feelings of stress or being overwhelmed
  • Feelings of sadness or tearfulness
  • Fear, worry or anxiety
  • Poor concentration, insomnia or other sleep problems
  • Stomach issues, heart palpitations and other physical symptoms
  • Tiredness, irritability, or low energy
  • Withdrawing from colleagues or other situations involving contact with others
  • Fear of public spaces & public transit

It is important that as we navigate the coming days that you accept your emotions and responses as well as seek support if necessary in coping with them.

For Managers Supporting Employees

At this challenging time, please remember to first protect your own health and well-being as an individual with your own concerns.

As a manager, you have an important role to play in supporting staff at this time. If you notice changes in employees’ typical behaviour, it is important to show concern, compassion, and understanding. Employees may react in unexpected ways that might appear irrational or misinformed. Please be reminded that individuals who live with existing mental health disabilities may be experiencing increased symptoms and stresses at this time. Conditions such as anxiety disorders, (e.g. Stress Disorders, Panic Disorder, OCD, specific phobias, hypochondria), substance abuse, or depression might be exacerbated. Try to take time to talk with your staff and show an interest in how they are coping, as every employee’s situation is different. Many employees will appreciate the opportunity to share concerns or ask questions of their managers and supervisors. We’ve compiled the following resources and supports, which we encourage you to share with your employees. If you need support as a manager, please connect with your HR Divisional Office or with Homewood Health at 1-800-663-1142

Employee and Family Assistance Program

The Homewood Health Client Services Centre, 1-800-663-1142, offers advice, counselling, and help for all employees and their dependents. Services are offered remotely and confidentially 24/7/365. Additional tools and resources for managing anxiety, stress and other mental health concerns can be found at Homeweb.ca

Services offered by Homewood Health include support for the full range of issues employees or their families may be experiencing at this time. Services include counselling, coaching, online courses, and tip sheets on a range of topics such as resilience, stress management, and protecting your mental health.

Wellness Together Canada

An online portal that allows Canadians to access self-assessments, self-directed e-mental health tools, peer support and live counselling by telephone, video and text that is funded by Health Canada.

Mental Health Services In Your Community

A non-profit initiative of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), eMentalHealth.ca provides anonymous, confidential and trustworthy information about mental health, and where to find support and help such as key resources, as well as nearby mental health professionals and self-help groups.

Your Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has designed a site to provide information and suggestions about how best to cope in this difficult time. Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic offers tips, coping strategies, and resources to manage your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questions about this memo?

If you would like further information on the services and supports available to you, your family/dependents or to your staff, please contact Teresa Scannell, Integrated Wellness Consultant, Human Resources and Equity at t.scannell@utoronto.ca