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The Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce conducted its first mental health symposium dedicated to the discussion of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected mental health in the workplace. Whether work is at the place of business or at home, speakers shared tips on how to support their employees’ mental wellbeing and adapt to the challenges of the evolving workplace. 

Ancora Counseling & Therapy Services, WebMD HR, Cascade Centers EAP, and the Washington County Crisis line speakers all gave extremely valuable insights into benefiting individuals in and out of the workplace. The sponsors and speakers that participated all specialize in helping individuals with mental health and provide the tools to do so.

Below is a brief recap of the event’s presentations.

Finding Support through EAPs

From a manager’s perspective, asking sensitive and personal questions to your employees doesn’t come easy. There is a way to navigate through asking mental health-related questions, such as commenting on observable work-related behavior to raise concern. Saying “I noticed you didn’t participate in the meeting, is everything ok?” is more approachable than blatantly asking if something is wrong. Validating other’s emotions doesn’t mean you need to agree with them, rather, it is important to be there for someone being vulnerable.

A company offering an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a very important resource that many won’t take advantage of until it’s too late, waiting until their breaking point to seek help and becoming overwhelmed with navigating through the program’s information. Having EAP information be easily accessible to those who need it can make a large difference. 

Building Relationships

Maintaining and building relationships in the workplace is needed now more than ever. Relationships look different due to the virtual boundaries of not being able to have casual conversations around the workplace. Setting up check-in meetings with employees and co-workers can help maintain these connections. 

Now as many return to work, having small conversations around the office to check up on others will go a long way to re-establish relationships. Keeping up relationships with coworkers you haven’t seen in person in over a year is very important, especially with those who weren’t too thrilled with leaving the work-from-home environment.

Creating Healthy Boundaries

The return to work in the office transition back is happening for many people across the country, however, that is not the case for everyone. Over the last year, many struggled with maintaining a healthy work-life balance, no matter their workplace position. As many people have found out, leaving work stress at the office is extremely difficult if your new office is your home. Everyone will find their own way of adapting to the new work environment, however, it is important to avoid burnout. Burnout is being in a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. This past year has brought many to that point and it is important to validate one’s own emotions in the current day. 

The stressors and changes caused by the pandemic have taken a toll so having a mental health check-up is crucial. Practicing self-care is a term many have heard and will continue to hear, however, knowing that taking care of one’s self, including one’s mental wellbeing, isn’t selfish –it’s necessary. 

For a list of mental health and wellness resources in the Hillsboro, Oregon area, check out the event program.

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