Mental Illness, The Workplace and COVID-19

by Kristina Sabetta

Human beings love certainty. The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought fear and uncertainty to many individuals. It has destroyed lives, shattered the thriving economy and changed the workplace. The pandemic has left many individuals unemployed, homeless and defeated. It has left many people feeling alone, confused and nervous. Statistics show that one in four adults has a diagnosable mental illness, but this pandemic will likely impact even more. According to research by Harvard University Medical School, untreated mental illness costs the U.S. at least $105 billion in lost productivity each year. What will this statistic look like a year from now? Will business survive? Will more employees be impacted by mental illness? This pandemic will have long-lasting impacts on our workplaces. Now more than ever, it is important to make mental health a priority — at home and at work.

Here are some things individuals can do to take care of their mental health during these unprecedented times.

Stick to a routine. Get up at the normal time, shower and start the day.

Get outside. Exercise regularly, camp in the desert, go for a walk and meet the new neighbor — while, of course, social distancing. Vitamin D is crucial, and exercise helps both mental and physical health.

Get educated. Expand knowledge base, learn a new language, read about something interesting or obtain a specialty certification.

Expand list of hobbies. Now is the time to learn a new trade, plant a garden or complete household projects.

Stay Connected. Connect with others, rekindle old friendships or increase a support network.

Get re-connected. Re-connect with old colleagues and build your professional network.

Talk about it. Many are struggling, reach out for help. Call a professional or share concerns with a trusted individual such as a member of clergy, a close friend, family member or trusted adviser.

Create a healthy environment. Take breaks from work and make time to unwind. Limit the news, including social media. Take deep breaths, eat healthy, and avoid alcohol and drugs.

Engage in mindfulness activities. Limit worry by focusing on the present and staying grounded.

Give back. Help those in need, volunteer at the local pantry, adopt a pet or donate blood.

Take advantage of resources. Contact the Warm Line by calling 602-347-1100. Call the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Helpline at 800-950-NAMI or, in a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741the NAMI Helpline at

Promoting mental health during this time of chaos is beneficial for the employer, the employees and the overall community.

Kristina Sabetta is the owner of Sabetta Consulting, LLC, which provides consulting services in the following areas: nonprofit management, executive leadership, behavioral health advocacy and education and program design and implementation. Sabetta is a Licensed Masters of Social Work, a mental health advocate and a member of NAMI Valley of the Sun ( NAMI Valley of the Sun provides education programs at no cost throughout Maricopa County. Programs include family programs, peer programs, programs for teachers and school administrators, programs for veterans and their families, support groups and a helpline.

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