Friday, August 6, 2021

APA Foundation Offers Advice to Employers to Help Workers Ease Transition Back to Workplace

Returning to a workplace after telecommuting for more than a year can be stressful for employees. They may need to establish new routines for commuting and family caregiving, they may have concerns about COVID-19 variants, and some may still be processing grief from losing loved ones to the pandemic. To help employers assist their employees with the transition, the Center for Workplace Mental Health, a program of the APA Foundation, has developed a guide for returning to the workplace.

The guide offers insight into the concerns employees may have and tips on communicating with employees throughout the transition. The key recommendations, among others, include the following:

Understand concerns: Consider conducting a survey or hosting a town hall discussion to better understand how this historic time has impacted employees and their concerns related to returning.

Communicate often and be transparent: Keep employees informed about plans and changes in policies and procedures and encourage open discussion about experiences and concerns with transitioning back.

Make employees’ mental health a visible priority: Make sure employees are aware of the mental health services and resources available to them and create an environment where people are comfortable talking about mental health and accessing services when needed.

Stay flexible: Anticipate the need to be flexible as people transition to new schedules, new commutes, and new routines.

Promote resiliency: Offer opportunities for mindfulness practices and create a healthy work environment, prioritizing reasonable limits on work hours and promoting physical health.

“Everyone’s situation and experience will be different, but for those of us who spent the last 16 months at home, we’re not just going back to ‘normal,’” said APA President Vivian Pender, M.D., in a statement released by APA. “We’ll all be dealing with new logistical and emotional challenges, and different people will have different burdens.”

The new guide “is essential reading for managers who are seeking actionable steps to support employees returning to the workplace,” said Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., APA CEO and medical director and chair of the APA Foundation. “Everyone is dealing with new life circumstances, and some of it will involve trauma, and not all will be evident. It’s important that we check in on and take care of each other.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Expect a ‘Long Tail’ of Mental Health Effects from COVID-19.”


Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to Speak at Mental Health Services Conference

Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., the newly appointed assistant secretary for mental health and substance use and administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will deliver the opening keynote address on Thursday, October 14, at APA’s virtual Mental Health Services Conference. Register today to hear Delphin-Ritton speak about how to increase access to care and how federal funds might be used in innovative ways to provide sustainable services that help our society’s most vulnerable populations to receive evidence-based care.



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