Supply chain and mental health: the ongoing impact of COVID-19

Supply chain, in general, is not known for being a chilled, stress-free environment..! Even at the best of times, it’s fast-paced and deadline driven; we’re often working across different states, countries, time zones; we’re on constant alert, facing any number of unexpected challenges and hurdles, as we work within project parameters that are always changing. Don’t get me wrong: it’s exciting, it’s dynamic – but it’s not easy. And it can be draining, both physically and mentally.   




Then add on COVID-19. All of a sudden, on top of the daily juggle, all eyes were on us as we fought to keep the world moving in the face of more obstacles than we ever thought possible. So, although the world might be starting to settle down and move forward, there’s no denying that these experiences have taken their toll. 

The COVID crisis, and all of the resulting economic impacts, has negatively affected so many people’s mental health, and created new barriers for people trying to access help. During the pandemic, around 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a noticeable jump up from 1 in 10 adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019, according to a report published by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). 

A KFF Health Tracking Poll from July 2020 also found that many adults were also reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress around the pandemic. 

Those are scary figures across the board, and certain sections of the workforce have been hit even harder. In April, I told you about the humanitarian crisis affecting maritime workers, of which mental ill health is a large part. And the same KFF report I mentioned above, says that essential workers, like our vital last mile delivery drivers, are more likely than nonessential workers to report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder (42% vs. 30%, respectively), starting or increasing substance use (25% vs. 11%), or even considering suicide (22% vs. 8%).

I don’t say all this to be a scaremonger – but we can’t fight a battle that’s happening behind closed doors. I believe in honesty and empathy, in sharing our truths, and in supporting each other. Mental ill health is being named by some as the latest pandemic and, we all know by now that, in order to effectively tackle a pandemic, we need to be pro-active, collaborative, persistent and receptive to other’s needs. 

Especially because where we are now is not the end. In a lot of ways, it’s just the beginning. We’re entering the next phase of a post-COVID world, and we’ve already seen the impacts coming thick and fast. Everyone has seen the high profile after-effects dominating the news, like container shortages and huge delays at ports. But the full scope of the disruptions we have to manage goes far beyond the headlines. Rising freight costs, staff shortages, massive backlogs and delays. And what about all the operational updates that need to be made in light of this illuminating crisis, like integrating more meaningful data systems, creating more effective risk management strategies and increasing visibility, at a business and industry level. The challenges facing supply chainers have never been greater, or more important. 

And that’s a big weight on already fatigued shoulders. 

So let’s talk about mental health. Let’s open up about the challenges we’re facing, because we’re definitely not alone – the supply chain community is a safe and supportive space for us all. 

And don’t forget that tools like Shipz can help. Our platform removes hours of wasted time and frustrating, repetitive processes by streamlining and automating daily tasks so your staff are less stressed and have more time to engage and focus on what matters most. Sign up for your FREE trial now.

Shipping, Supply Chain, Logistics, Mental Health, procurement