COVID-19 has created new, unprecedented challenges, and as we adjust to our new normal with an emphasis on our physical health, it is also important to take care of our mental health.
Iordanka Petzanova, a registered psychologist who works at Suncor as a mental health specialist, has been providing support to our employees as they deal with the changes.
“COVID-19 is impacting everyone around the world. Although it is impacting everyone very differently, there are also many similarities in the psychological effects of this unprecedented pandemic,” says Iordanka. “Feeling emotions such as anger, irritability, sadness and anxiety is quite normal during this time. Many of us are likely experiencing some or all of these emotions and this is why it is important to access the mental health resources we have available.”
Iordanka emphasises the importance of focusing on the present, the things we can control and the things we can enjoy as things feel more uncertain. She also highlights the key role of technology in keeping us connected at a time that may feel particularly lonely.
“Just because we are isolating physically from people doesn’t mean that we have to socially isolate,” she says. “Use the online technology that we have to talk to your family, your friends and your coworkers. Maintain those connections because social supports are one of the biggest buffers against stress.”
At Suncor, every member of our team and their families can also receive support through our Employee Family Assistance Program, a confidential and voluntary support service that offers clinical counselling, work, health and life support resources and professional advice. The service is offered at no cost to our team and their families.
“While we face this challenging time in our lives, it is important that all our employees and contractors have access to the mental health resources they need,” says Jean Cote, vice president, environment health and safety. “Taking care of and prioritizing your mental health will make sure you are fit for duty and can focus on your personal safety, whether at site or at home.”
As we continue to emphasize the importance of hand-washing and physical distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and take care of our communities, it is also important to remember that a time like this triggers psychological struggles for many people. If you need support, access local mental health resources, and look to trusted members of the community, friends and family for support as well. We truly are stronger together.