Wilfred van Gorp wrote an opinion piece for the San Francisco Chronicle entitled “Companies need to start taking mental health seriously if they want workers back in the office”. Here are the highlights of the article (This article is behind a paywall):

“During the long months of isolation during the COVID pandemic, the percentage of American adults reporting anxiety and depression almost quadrupled compared to the same period the year before, an astonishing rise with very little precedent. Tragically, deaths from drug overdoses surged 30% in 2020, driven by an increase in substance abuse and dependence at least partially related to the pandemic. The lingering effects of this mental health crisis will not disappear but will be carried back into workplaces, affecting relationships among colleagues, as well as supervisors, in ways that will require close monitoring from employers.

“Navigating in-person work relationships can be more challenging than adjusting to the physical work environment itself, especially for employees who suffer from conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The time spent at home, staring at virtual images of colleagues, forced into close quarters with family members, observing one’s own habits and distractions, brought to light countless cases of ADHD, dyslexia and other conditions that might have gone undiagnosed before.

“Employers would do well to put plans into place at this time to provide vital support that will allow their staffs to reach their best potential.

“In the same way that parents forced into homeschooling during the pandemic may have developed better insights into the learning challenges faced by their children, many adults are also coming out of the pandemic with a new understanding of their own mental health needs. Employers who are strategizing ways to reintegrate their workforce in new and forward-looking ways would benefit from setting up evaluation systems that can identify these special needs and provide an environment that will maximize the potential of all their employees.”

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