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Widespread Stress and Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Highlighted the Need for Global Mental Health Reform

The Ethics and Compliance Initiative® (ECIWorking Group and companion White Paper Report "Positioning Ethics and Compliance as a Strategic Leader in Times of Stress or Crisis" was established in part to study the ethical effects of internal and external workplace stressors.The COVID-19 pandemic was one of the most significant stressors addressed; however, the group also considered other stressors in the workplace, including but not limited to: mergers and acquisitions; changes to product lines; regulatory or legal actions against a company; impact of penalties and monitoring; negative media coverage; and organizational and structural changes within an organization.


The global pandemic was also a natural backdrop to research what began as an acute public health crisis that developed into a chronic stressor in and of itself, and literally every employee in every business globally has been affected, directly and/or indirectly. Finding the silver linings in any overwhelming challenge helps to discover universal lessons and opportunities to learn and grow as we collectively move forward into reopening phases, as this is one of those rare situations when a crisis is not experienced in isolation. Although COVID has brought multiple challenges, it has also brought the opportunity to address the effects of these issues in a high profile and priority level, not only on stakeholder health and well-being level, but also pull back the curtain regarding their adverse impacts upon ethical conduct and decision making.


We continue to receive data that verifies that no one is immune from the adverse mental and emotional ripple effect impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and serves to underscore how critical it is to remove the long-term stigmas surrounding the subject of human mental health in the workplace. Moving forward, the organizations that lead the way in proactively acknowledging all aspects of human health will set new standards in how leadership and the overall workplace culture will be modeled and its direct impact upon the level of Readiness, Responsiveness and Resiliency of all stakeholders will be undeniable.

"...the notion of resilience as an individual trait, something you have - and can lose - ignores that resilience is understood by researchers to be a dynamic, and varied, process. 'If you can just control your mind, then you will be resilient - that is actually an outdated idea,' said Michael Ungar, the director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Canada. 'But it’s still very popular.'


"Resilience is not the steely resolve of a person who is never fazed, and picks themself up again over and over. Instead, resilience is help-seeking, self-care, and accessing institutional support - all things people reach for that they may associate with resilience waning. Those are not byproducts of failing at resilience but adaptive and flexible coping strategies that could help to foster resilience later on.

“People have been coping for a long time with this pandemic,” Ungar said. “And that’s great because we have no choice -we have to cope. But people at some point wanting to say, ‘I’m done’- that reaction could also be a sign of resilience. After a while, to release a certain amount of frustration is not necessarily a sign of vulnerability, but it could be part of the process of preserving your mental health.” 

"In this way, resilience can be thought of as both something that will emerge later on and a skill that we can work to build now. It's interactive, community-based, and can look different each day. It’s both the ability to be strong in the face of difficult times, and also knowing when to be soft, and compassionate to yourself."

Source: "We’re All Burned Out and Exhausted. It Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Resilient." - Shayla Love

As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly abates globally, double down on healthy self-care practices, mutual support and basic human kindness, patience, empathy and generosity. With that said, here are a few suggestions that can help during this time of transition: 


Continue to do your best to:

  • eat well and exercise

  • reach out to one another

  • listen to each other

  • know its ok to not feel ok - you don't need to just "tough it out"

  • ask for help when you need it, and when the need feels dire, seek professional help, emergency and crisis services 

  • help others when you can - small gestures can go a long way

  • avoid assuming that everything will be great when the pandemic is over

  • encourage each other and keep your morale up as we all navigate what is to come

  • remember that we will always carry the shadow and the pain of this pandemic, some more than others. None of us is alone

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