Looking after your mental health as we return to work after the COVID-19 lockdown

COVID-19 is having a significant impact on how we interact with others and how we go about our lives and work. A combination of stress and uncertainty can have a significant and wide-reaching impact on mental wellbeing.

The Ministry of Health says it's normal not to feel OK all of the time – it's understandable to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, anxious or angry during the crisis. Everyone reacts differently to difficult events, and some may find COVID-19 more challenging than others. The ways people think, feel and behave are likely to change over time – we all have good days and bad days. 

Recognise your emotions and take time to stay focused on the here and the now.  

Here are a few things to consider: 


Properly manage your stress and wellbeing by: 

  • exercising - it only takes 15 - 30 minutes a day to feel the benefits  

  • get enough rest and time-out during the day 

  • eat healthy foods  

  • stay in contact with family and friends 

Watch for changes in behaviour 

You or a workmate may be exhibiting changes in behaviour. Consider whether these are one-off incidences, or is it happening more often than usual? Changes could include: 

  • Being angry or agitated 

  • Becoming isolated and not wanting to talk  

  • Using alcohol or drugs as a way of coping 

  • Being distant and not replying to messages  

  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things 
  • Not washing or looking unkempt 

  • Struggling to concentrate 

  • Struggling to finish work 

Remember, support is available 

If you or a workmate is exhibiting this type of behaviour, support is available. Perhaps talk to someone you trust at work or a friend or family member. There is also a wide range of support available in the community including MATES in Construction, a free, confidential service. 

Contact MATES in Construction on 0800 111 315 or text 5353 at any time. 

What can employers do? 

Now, more than ever, clear communication is essential. Employers should: 

  • Make mental health part of the conversation, and normalise the discussion 

  • Know their workers and look out for any changes in behaviour 
  • Proactively support workers who say they need help 

  • If you have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), make sure your workers know it's available