As some communities plan for the re-opening of local economies and some states relax their stay-at-home orders, many Americans may be returning to work and engaging in more social activity.
Businesses, health systems and governments are all crafting guidelines to help mitigate COVID-19 health risks associated with reopening communities. A glimpse of normalcy may come as a relief, but a return to the workplace and social habits also comes with questions and concerns, such as your health and the health of your loved ones.
The transition may require caution and intention in your workplace to maintain optimal safe distancing and adhere to CDC guidelines by practicing good hand hygiene and frequently sanitizing common areas and high touchpoint items like doorknobs, hand railings and communal phones and printers.
Understanding how to prevent the spread of illness, along with the awareness of online and telehealth resources, may allow you to navigate both your physical and mental health for a smoother transition back to work.
Check your symptoms
First, consider any symptoms you may be experiencing in order to make appropriate decisions to come into the office.
UnitedHealthcare offers a tool to help with questions surrounding potential symptoms. The Buoy Symptom Checker is an app that allows you to answer a series of questions about the severity and urgency of your symptoms. It then assesses care options ranging from self-isolation to emergency care. A testing site locator feature also provides information on nearby COVID-19 testing sites, if recommended by a physician.
Employers across the United States also have a new tool available for employees, at no charge. ProtectWell is a smartphone app that helps screen employees for COVID-19. It features a symptom checker with guidance on whether it may be safe to go to work. Employees found to be at-risk for COVID-19 are directed to get a test and the app notifies employers of the results to help them maintain a safe environment for all employees.
If you still need to see a doctor but may be worried about the potential risk of exposure with an in-person visit, you may want to consider telehealth. This allows you to connect 24/7 with a health care provider via a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer. Telehealth may be especially helpful as an initial option for medical advice related to COVID-19, and to help evaluate other possible health issues.
Monitor your mental health
Beyond physical health, access to virtual mental health resources may also be an important tool as you head back to work. The pandemic may have caused possible loneliness, stress or anxiety after being isolated over the past few months. A free emotional support line (866-342-6892) staffed by mental health professionals is available 24/7 to the public courtesy of Optum, which is part of UnitedHealth Group.
Mental health and wellness apps, like Sanvello, may also be a great resource for coping with potential ongoing stress and anxiety. Sanvello offers self-care tools, peer support groups, coaching and therapy to receive the support you may need as you return to work.
If you used mental health services before COVID-19, some care providers offer long-distance counseling and other resources, enabling for continued care from the comfort of your home. Check with your providers regarding options on what may work best for you.
Taking care of physical and mental health needs may be imperative in the coming weeks and months as communities strive to reopen and you begin to fall back into the rhythm of familiar routines. Awareness of available resources may help pave the way for a healthier transition and allow a stronger peace of mind to return to a safe workspace.