The unsung heroes: Checking in on the mental health of essential workers

It’s the final week of our Check-in Challenge, and as we wind down, let’s check in on the mental health of the essential workers in our lives.

Consider your grocery store clerk, a food server, mail carrier or delivery person. These are the people who are sometimes under-appreciated and yet help keep the world going. You can help them feel seen by checking in on them, and here are six ways to do that:

Be kind

If you only did one thing on this list, just be kind. Many times, essential workers get the brunt of people’s stress. Give a wave to your delivery or mail person. Make eye contact, say “thanks” and let them know you value them.  

Learn their name

If you can see their name on a badge, use it. If you don’t know the essential worker’s name, ask for their name by introducing yourself.

Speak up

Verbalize your appreciation by offering some key phrases:

  • “I realize how hard you’re working, and I just want to say thank you.”
  • “It’s people like you who are helping me get through this. Thank you for showing up today.”
  • “I know these are challenging times, and I just want to let you know how grateful I am for you.”
  • “I appreciate you and all that you do.”
  • “You’re helping to keep us all nourished and fed, and that isn’t going unnoticed.”
Woman receiving a parcel from a delivery service worker, wearing a face mask, waves the courier

Write it down

Leave a thank you note or ask your kids to draw them a picture.

Share a treat

A gift doesn’t have to be big to say thanks to those who work hard so we can get groceries, coffee, mail and deliveries. Try giving them a small goodie like a favorite candy bar or a homemade treat that is safely packaged to enjoy later. A gift could also be practical like a small pack of tissues, a bottle of hand sanitizer or lotion for their dry hands.

Ask open-ended questions

Here are some prompts to check in with the unsung heroes of our daily lives:

  • “How are things?”
  • “How’s your day been?”
  • “Have people been nice to you today?”
  • “How are you coping?”
  • “How are you holding up?”
  • “How are you dealing with things?”

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