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Coping with COVID’s Impact on Worker Health & Well-being

October 19, 2020

By Ben Kimmel

New York, NY – With an obvious focus on both our political and financial futures, jobless concerns and unemployment worries are an impending threat to the working world. There is no concrete evidence of a Covid vaccine which would allow schools and businesses to fully reopen. And unfortunately, local spikes of Covid infections have caused some areas to reverse their progress and shut down non-essential businesses. 

Both employers and employees are hoping for an economical rescue. However, it is unclear how this will happen and when the rescue will begin. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates have declined to 7.9 percent in the month of September. The Bureau states, “These rates are based on improvement in the labor market, due to the partial resumption of economic activity.” Unfortunately, the improvements appear to be slow moving and hard to see.

Local spikes of Covid infections around New York City have caused areas to fear for a second wave and the decision to shut down localized schools and non-essential businesses has caused a ripple effect. As a result, the concern has bled outward into the surrounding neighborhoods. As it is, much of the stimulus has dried up. People that were supposed to return to work have not done so and building occupancy in commercial office buildings are far below average. Workers are concerned for their future and financially, tensions are high.

Also high are the reports that stem from depression and anxiety. October 10, 2020 was World Mental Health Day. According to statistics, 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness. Anxiety and depression rank as the most common disorders from a clinical standpoint. Situationally, however, post-Covid times, financial concerns, and the changes in society have taken effect on those hit worst during our society’s curtailment.

Ideas such as World Mental Health Day or Mental Health Awareness Month is designed to remove the misperceptions that are linked to mental illness. Nevertheless, attention is shifting towards a better understanding for personal wellness and mental health and with stigma to the side, millions of people out of work are experiencing the situational depression that comes with being unemployed. 

Aside from earning a living, working provides a sense of purpose and structure. For some people, their worklife is their social life. Work helps pay the bills and keeps food on the table. More importantly, a steady income affords a person the luxury of better options, in which case, unemployment benefits are not enough to achieve the standards that most working families are accustomed to. This leads to financial insecurities and worries that run beyond personal control. So what can we do?

Since personal wellness is crucial, there is a need for basic tips that can promote physical and mental health. These tips are proven to be especially helpful while out of work or home on furlough. Simple tasks like exercise and proper diet are helpful choices to promote personal wellness. Also, creating goals and maintaining a schedule allows for a sense of purpose which allows the mind to have a healthy distraction. 

Stay physically and mentally active. Keep in touch with resources and look to network with new people. Do not be afraid to explore new opportunities and try new ideas. 

Some people have chosen to take classes from home. Some have utilized professional development workshops and online webinars to improve their job skills. Some have found new business opportunities away from their previous roles and others were fortunate to spend time with their family. Countless people have chosen to do volunteer work to increase a sense of productivity.

Above all, the best lesson is be patient. No one knows what will happen, but be ready, stay in contact, and maintain a structured lifestyle. Most importantly, stay away from “Stinkin thinkin” and keep active because the only way towards a healthy future is to stay well and keep a healthy mindset.

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of IUOE Local 94, as well as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach and Peer & Wellness Advocate. Ben can be reached at


October 19, 2020

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