On February 3, 2021, the Pew Research Center released a study indicating how the pandemic is impacting mental health and our everyday lives. The study, As Pandemic Continues, More in U.S. and Europe Feel Major Impact on Their Lives | Pew Research Center, was conducted from November 10, 2020, to December 23, 2020, and involved more than 4,000 adults in the U.S., Germany, France, and the U.K.
People were asked specifically if their lives had changed because of the pandemic. These are the findings, by nation, of those giving the response “a great deal/fair amount”:
- U.S.: 74 percent
- France: 67 percent
- Germany: 52 percent, the lowest of the four countries involved
- U.K.: 70 percent
“Of the four countries surveyed, majorities in three [countries] report their life has changed at least a fair amount due to the coronavirus,” concluded the researchers. “Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults say their life has changed, including 44 percent who say it has changed a great deal.
Across the Atlantic, no fewer than two-thirds of those in the U.K. and France also say their life has changed because of the outbreak.”
But wait, there’s more.
When asked how they rate their governments’ response in dealing with the pandemic, people in Germany gave their government remarkably high marks. Altogether, 77 percent say their government has done an excellent job at controlling and dealing with the pandemic. The French government also received relatively high marks, more than 50 percent.
However, when it comes to the U.K., and especially the U.S., things change dramatically. In the U.K., 51 percent are critical of their government’s handling and response to the pandemic. But in the U.S., that jumps to nearly 60 percent.
All interesting, but what does this mean when it comes to corporate security, risk management, and mental health?
To answer that question, we must look a little closer at the personal toll the pandemic is taking on mental health. Several studies now indicate that the pandemic – and how governments respond to it – are causing a combination of anxiety, depression, and anger. “[These] symptoms have more than tripled among U.S. adults compared to this time last year—with women and Black and Latinx communities most acutely impacted,” according to a recent report in Forbes.
Making matters worse, “over the past seven months, the world has seen a high degree of change, isolation, uneasiness, and loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Teralyn Sell, a Ph.D. psychotherapist, and brain health expert. “People have lost their jobs, lost loved ones, and are struggling to maintain some sense of normalcy while life feels anything but normal.”
What school and corporate administrators must realize is that all these conditions – all happening simultaneously – do raise risks to people, property, businesses, and organizations, mental health issues, and can raise them significantly. People who are suffering often act out their frustrations.
For instance, it is possible, when researchers and historians take a closer look at the events that led up to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, they may find it was not just politics behind the event, but the pandemic, job loss, debt, and that lack of “normalcy,” Dr. Sell refers to, that were also contributing factors. Further, people may target not only governments, but former employers, managers or supervisors, or organizations they see as capitalizing on the pandemic, all to release tensions and anxiety.
So, what should educational/other public facilities and businesses do to address this situation? The two most important things to do are the following:
Do not ignore it. The organizations that are least prepared are the ones that typically suffer the most should an unfortunate situation arise. With respect to the present pandemic, while there are vaccines now available, COVID may be with us for years in one form or another. This means effective planning now can help many organizations into the future.
Do not do it alone. We are in completely uncharted territory. Even in the best of situations, it is often a wise idea to have fresh eyes evaluate risks to an organization. But now, with COVID and all the associated problems that follow, it is essential to seek an outside expert risk assessment.
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Chief Executive Officer