Embracing mental health during COVID-19

12 Apr 2021

Embracing mental health during COVID-19

From 12 to 16 April, UNFICYP is organizing a mental health awareness campaign to support its staff in coping with the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light. The campaign is focused on the general awareness of mental health issues and developing wellbeing and resilience. 

The campaign, which has adopted the theme “There’s no mask for mental health” is spearheaded by UNFICYP’s Chief of Mission Support, Joel Cohen. “The public health effects of the pandemic are far-reaching as we know, and the longer the crisis remains, threats to individual mental health and wellbeing become more prevalent. The campaign is designed to shed light on this aspect of our overall health and safety and assist our personnel to enhance their own mental health and wellbeing, while destigmatizing mental health issues in general,” he explained.

“We understand that at the moment staff are finding ways to cope with the pandemic, and addressing not only physical, but also mental health, is important so that we can continue carrying out our regular tasks and functions to implement the Mission’s mandate,” stated Deborah Dunn, UNFICYP’s Chief of Human Resources, whose team is responsible for running the campaign. 

United Nations personnel serving at UNFICYP have proven their resilience and adaptability to the unprecedented challenges which arose from the outbreak of COVID-19. However, the pandemic has and continues to have a significant impact on staff mental health and wellbeing across all personnel.

The campaign will include virtual and interactive platforms including informative briefings, talks, videos and exercises. Craig Gagnon, the UN staff counsellor based in the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), will conduct daily 90-minute online sessions and will explore topics such as stress management, anxiety, coping with change amongst others.

The UN system around the world has implemented a workplace mental health and wellbeing strategy to help increase staff resilience, productivity and engagement. At UNFICYP, the campaign is tailored to all civilian, military and police components of the Mission.