Rome Floyd Chamber

Depression, anxiety and stress in the workplace resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are issues that can be dealt with, experts told members of the Rome Floyd Chamber Small Business Action Council.

When the source of the problem is fairly clear, it’s easier to make specific adjustments, according to Bonnie Moore, a longtime advocate with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Rome chapter.

Moore said mental health could classified as more of a short-term issue and likened it to the postpartum depression a woman could go through after childbirth.

“We all have mental health issues, we all have some type of depression,” Moore said. “But we’re able to move forward.”

A lot of people are suffering from the depression of being isolated and not being around people. Moore said groups like NAMI bring people together to discuss common issues, let them realize they are not alone and help find solutions.

Richard Montanaro, director of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, said the Zoom video-conference format for the SBAC meeting was a great example of networking in the new normal.

“We’re trying to counsel our clients: ‘Do not think you are socially distancing from one another, you’re physically distancing,’” Montanaro said. “We want to encourage people to be socially more close. Physically distance, socially connect.”

Steven Hunt, with Briggs & Associates, said the situation the country is going through right now is an easily identifiable change in peoples lives.

“Once we identify what’s different, then we can make some necessary adjustments,” Hunt said. “That’s the big difference when we’re talking about the short term mental health situation.”

Once changes are effectively addressed, pretty soon that person is going to be back to where they were. Mental illnesses are typically issues that persist over a long period time, he said, and have to be treated for the rest of a person’s life.

Montanaro also told the local business owners about some of the programs that are available to assist them at this time. He encouraged them to take advantage of the Economic Disaster Loan program, which is offering funds that are repaid at 3.75% interest over 30 years.

“Borrow the money,” Montanaro said. “If you have it you’ve got this working capital back up cushion that you can use.”

That’s important, he said, because the full economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis may not be known over the long term.

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