Ideas

April 13, 2020

Episode #008: Supporting mental health through COVID-19: A Conversation with Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner

Over the last several episodes, we’ve been looking at COVID-19 and the impact this situation has had on Canadians, businesses and the economy overall. We find ourselves in the middle of two crises: the health crisis and the resulting economic crisis, which is compounded in Alberta as a result of low oil prices. Considering this, we turn our attention to the impact this is having on our mental health.

As of the publication of this episode,

The physical distancing measures that have been put in place to slow the spread of the virus have left many feeling isolated from their family and friends. Additionally, many Canadians have been feeling high levels of anxiety around their personal finances as many have lost their jobs or have seen a drastic reduction in their income due to the number of business closures and reduced economic activity. We’re experiencing a disruption to our daily lives, and it is taking a serious toll on our mental health.

Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, CEO of the Calgary Counselling Centre joins co-hosts Adam Legge and Brittany Brander for a thoughtful look at how crisis situations, like COVID-19, have a profound impact on our mental health; how employers can have healthy conversations with their team about mental health and well-being, especially as remote working situations and physical distancing measures take their toll on employees and what people can do to protect their mental health and when it’s time reach out to someone.

In This Episode:

  • Common reactions, emotions and responses people have as they deal with the stress of crisis situations and the challenges of facing new situations
  • How the Calgary Counselling Centre has shifted operations to continue to support their clients and staff and respond to the need quickly
  • How demand for services has shifted as a result of COVID-19, drop in oil price, shock to markets and sustained economic fallout, and how well Alberta is equipped to handle the rise in demand
  • Impact of remote working situations on employee mental health and well-being, and how employers can lead through times of crisis and uncertainty
  • What protective measures people can take to care for their mental health and when they should reach out to a counsellor

Key Takeaways:

  • Even though COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on our mental health, we can look to past crises and disasters such as the 2013 Calgary Flood, Fort McMurray fires, 2008 financial crisis, and 2014 oil price crash for lessons and experience to effectively support those experiencing mental health issues.
  • Business leaders need to be purposeful, proactive as they lead their teams through this challenging situation. Provide clarity, reassurance, and good information. Be honest and vulnerable with your own situation.
  • There are simple things you can do to protect your mental health including reaching out to friends and family, getting outside, getting physical exercise and getting professional help if you need it.

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