PPE and mental health
How adequate PPE provision can lessen employee anxiety
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in heightened stress, anxiey and tension for people worldwide. It has also notably increased the prevalence of diagnosed mental health disorders across the UK. Occupational health is also seeing additional mental health challenges in wake of the pandemic, especially for those working in the healthcare industry. Not only are front line workers facing an increased risk of contracting the virus themselves, but they also have to respond to a surge in healthcare demand and huge pressure from their workplace and society.
While many business owners are aware of the importance of PPE in the workplace to help ensure staff and client safety and offer protection against the global pandemic, it’s easy to overlook or understate the positive impact and importance of PPE for mental health.
What is the link between PPE and mental health?
An increase in stress and anxiety for healthcare workers throughout a pandemic is expected. However, several studies over the course of the coronavirus outbreak have shown a direct correlation between an inadequate supply of PPE and increased anxiety. One study found that of the participants that had 100% of their PPE needs met, including gloves, face visors, face masks, aprons, and hand sanitiser, 42.9% suffered from symptoms of anxiety. In contrast, where no PPE needs were met, anxiety increased to 60.4% of respondents.
Having adequate PPE within the workplace will not entirely prevent anxiety and poor mental health, as other factors such as hours of work, the severity of COVID-19 at their place of work, and general lifestyle also contribute. However, providing adequate PPE can significantly reduce the frequency of anxiety amongst team members.
What is the importance of good mental wellbeing at work?
Mental health impact should be as big of a concern as the virus itself, as the effects of poor mental wellbeing are likely to linger long after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. People also work better when feeling mentally well, being more productive, taking on more work without feeling overwhelmed, and carrying out their jobs better. While this is essential in all businesses, in healthcare this is critical in effectively treating and managing the outbreak of coronavirus as efficiently as possible.
Alongside fighting COVID-19, poor mental health affects all businesses, costing UK employers up to £45 billion each year and rising. Whereas employers need to create a supportive environment for employees, sourcing PPE is an easy way to keep anxiety down at a highly stressful time.