Monitoring Our Mental Health

Mental Health

A mindful approach to workplace wellbeing and pandemic-related stress

By Henri Baskins

As we move into the new year, it’s essential to keep an optimistic outlook about the future of our workplaces and the business community. But “out of sight” doesn’t always mean “out of mind”. 2020 was a learning experience for many of us and highlighted the importance of work-life balance.

While the pandemic may have jeopardized our physical health, it simultaneously took a toll on our mental health. The Harvard Business Review found that 42% of workers globally have reported an overall decline in their mental health.

On the local level, our leaders in the Midlands business community have been seeing similar trends. Our partners and business leaders are looking for ways to step up to the plate to address the severity of the mental health crisis affecting our workers.

Implementing social distancing guidelines and health precautions are a great start, but if your employees are silently struggling with their own mental health challenges, your business simply won’t be able to maximize its efficiency. According to Ginger, an MIT Media Lab startup, 88% of workers reported experiencing moderate to severe stress due to the pandemic, 62% of workers report losing a least one hour a day in productivity, and 32% of workers lose more than two hours a day.

Be open about mental health in the workplace

Reducing the stigma around mental health and speaking candidly about mental health issues is a great way for employers to lead by example. Open communication and “check-ins” with workers allows leadership to gauge morale and adjust accordingly.

Proactively offering flexibility through remote work options and allowing employees to accommodate their work hours to their other responsibilities is another valuable strategy employers can utilize. Make sure your team members know where and how to access professional resources for support you may not be able to provide.

Building a culture of connection and honest communication surrounding mental health issues will be the key to success in such ongoing uncertainty. We encourage the business community and local leadership to begin making strides to address the crisis head-on. For information on local professional resources, visit the Columbia Chamber’s Partner Directory at partners.columbiachamber.com/list/.


Henri Baskins is the executive vice president of the Columbia Chamber. Her passion for business and strategic planning guides her role at the Chamber, where she provides managerial and public policy direction.