As more and more of us are returning to work full-time in our physical offices, it is as important as ever to remember to physically and mentally take care of ourselves. Just over 70% of respondents to The American Lawyer’s 2021 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Survey stated that the COVID-19 pandemic made their mental health worse. Thirty-seven percent of the respondents stated that they were depressed, nearly 71% said they had anxiety, and about 14% said they had another mental health issue; these were all increases over the last survey, which was conducted in 2019. There were multiple different reasons given by respondents as to why their mental health worsened, including isolation, lockdown, working remotely, disruption in routine, fear of job loss, fear of catching the virus, missing family, workspace constraints, catching the virus and reduced access to mental health programs.
To me, it is easy to see that many of the causes of worsening mental health given by respondents to the survey are not going to go away just because we are returning to our offices. In fact, I believe some of these sources of depression, anxiety and mental health issues are here to stay. For example, almost 14% of respondents said that working remotely caused their mental health to suffer. For many of us, the pandemic forced us to either upgrade or completely implement remote working capabilities. As a result, the line between work-life and personal-life was blurred during the pandemic. Now that we are returning to our offices, I am sure that many of us will still have the capability to work remotely. After all, time and money was spent on upgrading or implementing the ability to work remotely; it is not like those investments are going to be put to waste. A potential issue I see with this is that the line between work-life and personal-life will continue to be blurred. Even when we leave our physical offices, we never truly can leave work now that our remote working capabilities are as advanced as they are. That is unless we remember to take time for ourselves and disconnect from our devices.