Covid-19 and its effect on workplace mental health


Statistics produced by the Health & Safety Executive show that mental health was already a huge issue in the workplace long before the current situation arose with Covid-19 but how will it affect your organisation and your employees?

According to an article in the Guardian online a recent survey carried out by YouGov found that 50% of healthcare workers reported that their mental health has deteriorated since the virus began. That’s not surprising really, considering that they are definitely working under a lot more pressure and they are concerned about their safety & the safety of their loved ones during these strange times.

Now while there is so much media attention on the key workers and their well-being, we must not forget about the mental health of the rest of the workforce because this emergency affects us all.

I have heard so called experts predicting a serious rise in the number of PTSD cases because of the disease, but as someone who has lived with mental illness as well as working with others with issues my concern is more about a possible rise in Adjustment Disorders.

Big changes in our lives can be challenging enough to deal with even when we have made a conscious decision to make those changes, but when those changes are forced upon us in a short space of time the effects can be magnified hugely.

So many people are now living and working in a way that is totally alien to them, even if they are used to working from home it is likely that there will be extra pressures for them.

Let us think about them for a moment:

  • How is the employee who lives alone and now working at home coping with the feeling of isolation?
  • How is the person who is used to working from home but lives with family members coping with juggling work and family now that everyone is there 24/7?
  • How is the employee who is used to working on site coping with working remotely from home and dealing with the feeling of isolation or family pressures?
  • How is the employee who is on furlough leave coping with having no work to do and the financial pressures of reduced pay?
  • How are they all coping with having large parts of their work and family life taken out of their control?
  • How are they all coping with the perception of danger with the virus?

These are just a few of the possible situations, with the huge variety of careers and living arrangements the number of potential circumstances is vast.

So with no way of knowing of when this state of affairs will end, how can employers reduce the risk and help their employees to maintain their well-being?

There are a couple of great ways to show them that you care about them and it is not difficult to do:

  • Communication:

Stay in touch with them, and ask them how they would prefer to do that. Some may prefer a good old fashioned telephone call because it feels familiar, others may want to embrace to new way with video calls either in a group or individually.

Also ask how often would be good for them because too many calls can feel oppressive while too few can lead to someone feeling isolated and unwanted. Give them good quality updates and let them know they are valued.

  • Training:

While someone is on furlough leave there is very little they can do, but training is definitely on the permitted list. It will be a huge boost to every employee too, not just those on furlough.

Not all needs to be all about their role within the organisation either, think about the person’s ability to create structure for themselves. They may not carry out a role where they are required to build structure, but with the changes they are having to deal with they will need to learn.

Managers create structure for their teams in the workplace every day, can they pass on some of that experience. Remember to include prioritising of work related tasks, and blocking out time for family and rest.

There are some fantastic training packages for mental health awareness and mental health first aid which can be delivered remotely by video conference, do some research and ask your people if they would like to get involved.

Video conferencing is a fantastic tool for delivering training, it now means that geography is no longer a barrier to training your teams no matter how far and wide they are spread. It also means that once they are trained in the skills needed they can more easily provide support for each other.

When you consider that according to the Centre for Mental Health, the cost to employers due to mental ill health in the UK almost £35 billion per year before the Coronavirus emerged, doesn’t it make sense to invest in your employees’ well-being now before it develops into a problem for you all?

Andy Graham


Specialist Mental Health First Aid Training, Support, & Consultancy

Mental Health & Covid-19

These are very trying times for most people for more than the possibility of contracting the Corona Virus. The fact that we have all been forced to change the way we live both our private and professional lives is creating extra pressures too!

There are a number of different scenarios that people are faced with when it comes to our work and home lives such as:

  • Working from home.
  • Continuing to work as a key worker.
  • Furlough.
  • Redundancy.
  • Self-employment.
  • Business ownership.

As the situation continues I will be creating blogs which look at each of these situations and I am beginning today with working from home.

If you are designated as an essential person for your organisation and you have been asked to work from home to help keep the world turning rather than being furloughed or made redundant it will bring a number of possible issues depending on your personal situation.

You may find you are feeling much more anxious because of situations such as:

  • Feeling isolated because you live alone and are used to working with other people, or…
  • Feeling crowded because you are used to working in an organised workplace and now you have the family around you.

So why do we feel so anxious?

Well, Anxiety is a natural element of every single one of us. It is Mother Nature’s alarm clock and is designed to wake us up to danger and to tell to take appropriate action to keep ourselves safe.

It feels particularly unpleasant to make us take notice and under “normal” circumstances is a short lived experience which dissipates as soon as the danger has passed.

The problem right now is that we have a perceived danger which we are being informed will last for an indefinite length of time, and with unknown consequences.

So how do we deal with it?

For me the answer is twofold:

Firstly, learn from our cousins in the animal kingdom and get back to living in the here & now. If , like me you like to watch nature programmes you will notice that the animal world generally speaking does not suffer with mental health issues, that is unless the animal concerned happens to have been abused by humans.

Animals go about their business, focusing on what they need to do right now. We humans however, spend far too much time dwelling on what has happened in the past and then trying to predict what will happen in the future!

The trouble with this is that the past experiences will be either:

  • Positive.
  • Negative.
  • Non-existent.

Now, if your past experiences of the current situation were positive then you will be far more likely to project a positive outcome for the future. However, while there have been outbreaks of very serious illnesses before, we have NEVER been subjected to such extensive and strict measures to deal with it.

The fact is that the large majority of people have absolutely no previous experiences to draw upon, and our memories of being ill are very rarely happy. The result of this is that instead of putting a positive spin on things we tend to see this as a very bad thing with no end in sight, in short we catastrophise!

If we can learn to focus our minds on just what we need to do right now it will help us to remain calm and balanced. A great way to start is to get into mindfulness by using guided meditation apps or even to simply stop to take time out and notice the wonderful things you have around you that Mother Nature provided.

The second thing that will help is putting things in place to help us to focus on the here & now. The way to do that is to learn to put structure in place in your life.

When you are at work you know what you are going to do when you get there because there is structure in place. No organisation can operate effectively without it and neither can we as individuals.

Building structure is simply creating a prioritised list of the things you need to do each day. When you are out of the house and at work this is a fairly simple thing to do as you only need to populate the list with working tasks, but when you are working from home you need to factor in other things such as:

  • The family and their needs.
  • Domestic tasks.
  • Self-care time.

When you are working from home it is very easy to fall into the trap of burying yourself in your work but we must remember that, even in these trying times there are things that are just as and even more important than work!

It is easy to remind ourselves that we must remain “self disciplined” and crack on!

Well self-discipline is a two sided coin, and on the other side of the coin is the need to recognise our limitations and the ability to make sure that we take care of our personal needs so we can maintain balance.

So my recommendation to you is to start creating a structure which allows you to take care of your working tasks, your family needs, and your personal self-care needs. The way I do this is to make sure that my final task of today is to create my “to do list” for tomorrow.

This way I can relax in the evening, safe in the knowledge that my structure for tomorrow is in place and I can sleep soundly as a result.

Start now… think about the things that you love to do to relax & unwind and put time to do those things into your daily “to do list”.

If you would like a personal chat about this or any other wellbeing topic please feel free to e-mail me via

Stay safe and well.


My 5 Favourite Mental Health Apps

Hi and welcome to the MHFA999 blog, MHFA stands for Mental Health First Aid and I intend to write a regular blog about all things relating to mental health and first aid.

I am a mental health first aid instructor and last week during a mental health first aid course which I was delivering in Manchester one of my students asked if I did a blog and if not could I create one so that I could give out handy hints and tips.

So here is the first one and it is all about my favourite apps that I use to help maintain my own mental wellbeing and to help support others too.

Here are my top 5 personal favourites:

  1. My Chakra Meditation 2:

Chakra meditation has been around for about 3000 years and was invented in India. It is based on the idea that we have 7 energy pools in our bodies and if we focus our mind on each of them in turn we can maintain the flow of energy through the body and so help to maintain our wellbeing.

This is my favourite app for two reasons: 1) It is a really simple app, and 2) It works for me.

There are no instructions or guided meditations just a set of 7 tones (1 for each of the Chakra points) which play one after the other. You start by regulating your breathing and focusing your attention at the base of your spine which is the Root Chakra, then each time the tone changes you simply move your focus to the next Chakra point in the order Sacral (bladder area), Solar Plexus (below the rib cage), Heart (centre of the chest), Throat (self explanatory), Third Eye (forehead between the eyes), and the Crown (top of the head).

I find using this system of meditation highly energising and also very good for helping me manage my physical aches & pains. It takes around 35 minutes to complete a cycle and afterward I feel calm, balanced, relaxed.

Cost: FREE


2) Qi Gong Meditation Relaxation:

Another fantastic app to help you relax and let the stress drain away, but has many more facets to it including articles, guided meditations, and videos.

Qi Gong is an ancient system of Mindfulness but this one originates in China and it is where Tai Chi comes from.

Enter the Audio tab and you will find lots of guided meditations of varying lengths of time and for different purposes including some for children.

Simply choose your meditation, close your eyes, and follow your guide. I find this app great for guiding me to a relaxing happy place, and also for helping me to learn the art of Tai Chi which is an excellent type of all body exercise.

Cost: FREE


3) Stay Alive:

Stay alive is an excellent app for people who are supporting someone who is suicidal and also for people who are feeling suicidal.

It is crammed full of highly valuable information & resources for both situations including places where you can get professional help, and for crisis planning to stay alive.

This is something I recommend to all of my student on the mental health first aid courses as it really can help you to save a life.

Cost: FREE


4) Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame Street:

If you have young children in your life who are starting so experience anxiety about doing the things that kids do this is the perfect app for you.

It is an interactive app that starts by showing one of the young monster characters from Sesame Street getting up tight and anxious, the child then helps the monster to calm down by getting him to take three deep breaths.

Once he has calmed down there is a “pop the bubbles” game to help to monster think of three possible plans to deal with the situation that has caused the anxiety.

The final step is for the child to chose one of the options and to see the result.

This is a fantastic and fun way for children to learn about anxiety and how to cope with it. I use it with my Grand-daughter and she loves it.

Cost: FREE


5) Anxiety Release:

This is a fairly simple app that sits somewhere between the My Chakra 2 and Qi Gong apps in that it uses a combination of relaxation music and guided meditations to help you relax and deal with your stress and anxiety.

It also keep a record of your perceived stress/anxiety levels when you use it.

It is a really good app but I prefer the other 2, it is an excellent extra tool to add to your Mental Health Tool Kit.

Cost: FREE


Technology is regularly named as a major cause of stress and anxiety in today’s world but it can also be very useful in helping us to maintain our wellbeing. I hope you enjoy checking out my 5 favourite mental health related apps and please feel free to leave your comments about what you think of them and even let me know if you have any favourites of your own.

Please check back next week more the next installment which will be my 5 favourite self-help books.

Finally you can find me all over the internet via my website: and on social media by searching @mhfa999.

Take good care of yourself and each other.

Cheers, Andy