What We Learned About Mental Health in 2020

With 2021 well underway, it’s important that we continue to reflect on the lessons we learned in 2020. Think about how much we have grown and how truly resilient we are.

Being intentional

At the beginning of a new year, it’s a tradition for many of us to create lists of resolutions. Unfortunately, resolutions typically set us up for failure. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need to be intentional about how we grow.

As you set your intentions for 2021, reflect on last year and identify what was important to you and what helped you be your best. Maybe you want to continue to be deliberate about your self-care routine. Or you want to be more aware of being in the moment.

Whatever your intentions are, continue to seek out resources that can help you achieve your goals.

Keeping the mental health conversation going

We are in the middle of a great mental health awakening. The events of 2020 put a much-needed spotlight on the importance of mental health. At one point or another, we all experienced an impact on our mental well-being – no one was immune.

The pandemic, social injustice, political differences, and a struggling economy will continue to have lasting effects on our mental health. In 2021, we must continue to build on the mental health conversation. We need to continue to build our resiliency.

2020 was about gaining insight, making connections and educating ourselves about our well-being. In 2021, we need to commit to a shift to action. This includes implementing different strategies to sustain the self-care plan we created in 2020 so it is continuous and dynamic.

We can also no longer avoid talking about mental health, especially in the workplace. To break the stigma, we must get comfortable asking this simple question, “how are you really doing?”

Organizations must seize this opportunity to create lasting change around mental well-being in the workplace. We can accomplish this by training leaders and managers on how to recognize when someone needs help and how to respond appropriately.

Avoiding Burnout

While we continue to adapt, we have been faced with continuous stressors and challenges which can lead to burnout. According to a Gallup poll conducted in September 2020, remote workers are now experiencing higher burnout rates than on-site workers.

As individuals, we must continue focusing on building our skills that will raise our resilience. From an organizational perspective, providing empathetic leadership goes a long way.

How can leaders prevent and mitigate burnout?

Training all employees on what burnout is, how to spot it and strategies for preventing it is a great first step. But there is more that leaders can do. Leaders can role model behaviors that prevent burnout such as taking small breaks to grab some water, taking a non-working lunch or using PTO and not working.

Organizations also play an important part in preventing burnout. Setting 25- or 50-minute meetings as an organizational standard to give employees time to breathe before moving on to their next task. Organizations can also designate an agreed-upon time without interruptions or meetings (i.e., Friday afternoons from 1-3 p.m.).

Remember, we are all in this together. The time is now to make mental well-being a priority in our homes and our workplaces, wherever they may be.