COVID-19 and mental health at work

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Take the first steps to a mentally healthy workplace

A mentally healthy workplace is good for workers and good for business. Not sure where to start? Find out more about how you can take the first four steps to create a mentally healthy workplace.

COVID-19 has changed the way that we live and work. These changes may cause stress for some people and impact on our mental health. It’s important for businesses to provide a mentally healthy work environment, to make sure everyone stays physically and mentally healthy during this time.

For the latest information and resources to help with COVID-19, visit nsw.gov.au

Watch how manufacturing business, TrendPac have created a COVID Safe workplace, while supporting staff's mental health.

Supporting your team's mental health during COVID-19

Manage risk factors

Stay informed on the situation through official information sources such as nsw.gov.au, and NSW Health. Also:

  • Become a COVID Safe business to show your commitment to protecting our community.
  • Identify and support workers that may be more at risk of workplace psychological injury. For example, frontline workers or those working from home in isolation.
  • Understand the risk factors of mental ill-health in the workplace.

Lead change

Workplace safety needs to be a priority for all leaders in business shown every day in the following actions:

  • Lead by example. It’s important to ensure you look after your own mental health through healthy behaviours and habits. Take care of yourself and implement the Five ways to wellbeing.
  • Consult with your team on how work will be conducted differently to ensure a COVID Safe business.
  • Create a flexible workplace and consider how good work design may help your team manage their work, as well as their family and carer responsibilities, which may be changing through COVID recovery.
  • Communicate with workers regularly about how your business is addressing COVID-19 and what control measures you’re putting into place.
  • Ensure everyone is clear on what entitlements they can access, particularly where workers may have carer responsibilities or become unwell with the virus.
  • Remember, workers on extended leave or workers compensation may also need to be kept informed and understand the impact on their situation.

Provide support

Be open and transparent in your interactions with workers. Let them know they’re not alone and it’s okay not to be okay. Also:

Share other available free services such as:

Supporting a changing workplace

As the COVID-19 situation changes, restrictions also continue to change. Businesses have to regularly consider workplace requirements and how this impacts returning to work.

It’s important for leaders to recognise change may cause anxiety and stress and to ensure changes are made in a physically and mentally safe way through clear communications and consultation.

Having a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place can help you keep track of what you need to do plus:

Working remotely, or from home

With more people working from home, remotely or even on the road - maintaining a mentally healthy workplace presents a unique challenge. As a leader, you have a responsibly to look after your staff, no matter where they are working, by addressing three areas:

1. Legal obligation

Understand your legal obligations. NSW businesses must comply with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and managers still have a responsibility to ensure the work environment is both physically and mentally healthy and safe.

2. Encourage

Encourage your team to stay connected by:

  • Consult with your team on their working from home arrangements.
  • Encourage clear start and finish times including breaks and time for physical activity.
  • Understand the importance of social connections to maintaining good mental health through the icare social connections toolkit.
  • Promote a positive and inclusive culture and stay connected through regular phone or video catch ups.
  • Recognise the signs someone is struggling by being aware of behaviour and communication changes. RUOK? provides helpful information on how to do this remotely and how to start a conversation.

3. Seek support

Resources to stay mentally healthy during COVID-19
Resources for staying mentally healthy when you are out of work

If you or a colleague needs mental health support right now

Contact the services below if crisis support is needed urgently: