Unemployment During a Pandemic

Oct 30, 2020

As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted the way that we live our lives. From the way we shop for groceries to the way we socialize or come into contact with other people, our lives don’t really resemble what they were before March. One of the other major changes we’ve experienced because of the pandemic is in the way that we work. Earlier this year, we saw employers pivoting to remote work and adapting their workplaces to ensure the health and safety of staff and the general public. We saw people learn how to adapt to working from home. We also saw many people finding themselves suddenly unemployed.

Unemployment is difficult under any circumstance, but during a pandemic where the rate of reported mental health struggles has already increased among Canadians, the impact of unemployment on mental health can be devastating. It’s not just about the financial stress that unemployment brings with it, it’s about the loss of work as a meaningful outlet in our lives.

Work is about more than just a paycheque.

A big part of our lives is anchored around work. Work allows us to explore our interests, develop skills, and find fulfillment. We set goals for ourselves and feel good when we achieve them. When we work, we foster belonging through the relationships that we build with our employers and our coworkers. Through work, whether it’s paid employment, volunteer work or unpaid labour, we feel like we’re contributing to something important in a meaningful way. We build community and we are given the chance to show the world what we can do. Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of work is that it’s incredibly grounding because it helps us establish a baseline of what we feel is normal. We build routines around our work schedules and we go through these normal routines almost every day. When you are suddenly unemployed due to prolonged circumstances outside of your control, it’s difficult to know how to adapt and move forward. The pandemic makes it even more difficult to simply find a new job because there are fewer opportunities and increased anxiety and stress.

Work. Regardless.

At Causeway, we’ve faced our own set of challenges throughout this pandemic. Our priority was to maintain connections with our clients to ensure they had the support they needed during these difficult times. We shifted our operations online, explored new ways to provide support to our clients and the community, and are planning for ways to continue providing supports for the months ahead. For us, ‘Work Regardless’ means to keep finding ways to help as many people that we can to find work and receive the support they need to reach their employment goals. We continue our work regardless of the challenges that we face because work is incredibly valuable. We understand and value the relationship between mental health and work. In order to put your best foot forward at work, you need to be in a healthy mental space and, as we’ve learned through these last several months, work can certainly help people improve their mental health.

What can I do?

Seek support: It’s okay to seek help and support when you need it. It can be difficult to navigate or know where to start, but here is a good list of resources from Ottawa Public Health that can help you get started. If you experience barriers to finding work, contact our intake office to help you get started at Causeway.

Support local businesses: By supporting local businesses and social businesses in your community, you are directly supporting business owners and supporting the employment of so many people.

Be mindful of your mental health: Mental health is a vital component to our overall wellness both in and outside of the workplace. Seek help when you need it and take steps to help you improve your mental health

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