The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of focus on people’s physical health. However, with new data and research coming out we are learning about the collective toll COVID-19 had on people’s mental health as well. In a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KKF) in the spring of 2020, 45% of adults in the United States reported their mental health has been negatively impacted due to stress COVID-19 has caused. And it has likely increased as social distancing, and school and business closures can lead to more isolation and financial distress.

Recently Ideba hosted a marketing roundtable discussing the impacts of COVID-19 with participants from organizations in many different industries. During the roundtable, a key discussion topic included the increased importance of empathy for employees and customers as mental health has suffered. It has become more of a focus to touch base with employees on a regular basis, share vulnerabilities, empathize with others, and give back to communities and employees severely affected by the pandemic.

Even in recent news as Simone Biles bowed out of the Olympics due to mental health struggles, it reminds us that we are all human beings; that it’s OK not to be OK, especially after the last 18 months. Before Simone Biles, tennis star Naomi Osaka also stepped away earlier this year from press conferences and tournaments out of a need to protect her mental health.

This new drive to eliminate the stigma around mental health treatment or challenges is an interesting trend and I hope that more people and organizations continue to put a focus on mental wellness. As part of our series of blog posts on “What I’m looking forward to most in 2021?”, I hope to see this trend of empathy and understanding continue. As we hope to leave the pandemic behind us, I’m looking forward to doing more to protect my own mental wellness and those around me by reconnecting with groups of friends and family, continuing to take time to get outside, offering support where needed and encouraging open and transparent conversations. What are some things your organizations are doing to put an increased focus on mental wellness? Drop your feedback and ideas in the comments.

-Jocelyn van der Geest, Senior Research Analyst