AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


Mental Health

The United Nations (UN), World Health Organisation (WHO) and Mental Health Reform have all stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has had serious impact on people’s mental health and has urged governments around the world to include the availability of mental health support services in their recovery plans.

The United Nations (UN) has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic “risks sparking a major global mental health crisis”, while the World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified that “the isolation, fear, uncertainty, and the economic turmoil [of the current pandemic] could cause psychological distress, and we could expect to see an upsurge in the severity of mental illness, including among children, young people and healthcare workers”.

It’s important to recognise the impact of the pandemic not just for all employees, but in particular employees who have pre-existing mental health conditions before Covid19 and the consequences of the limited support they may have received from medical professionals and support programmes.

Mental Health Reform is a coalition of 75 member organisations within the mental health sector and recently they published a survey from their membership about the impact of Covid-19. You can read the full report on their website here.

Some of the key points for employers to consider from this report are;

  • 76% had to withdraw services they normally provide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 74% disagreed that the Government has done enough to address the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 79% expected demand for their services to increase further going forward.
  • 92% agreed that the mental health services require additional resources to deal with the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Tips to look after an employee’s mental health during COVID-19

  • Ensure employees are aware of resources available to them such as the Employee Assistance Programme. Ensure employees know where they can get information if concerned about their mental health.
  • Good communication is key; Keep employees informed about measures being put in place and the impact of this.
  • Some people may need extra support be aware of this and ensure steps are put in place to meet their needs.
  • Consider the impact of remote working as it may require some adjustment for people such as managing the boundaries between work and personal time.
  • Be mindful that remote working may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Be clear on what working hours are.
  • Stay connected using virtual platforms with regular check ins.
  • Encourage regular breaks away from work and screen time


Returning to the Workplace

  • Consider operating a blended model, both remote and in office working.
  • Reintroduce employees back into the workplace. Have a re-induction.
  • Ensure a full health and safety risk assessment is carried out on return to work.
  • Be aware of the possible mental health implications of Covid-19, high anxiety levels, grief due to lost loved ones, fears of unemployment.
  • Encourage a culture of open communication and let it be acceptable to talk and seek support.
  • Have forums for workers to have non work conversations with each other.
  • Inform employees about any mental health support you have in place such as the Employee Assistance Programme, mental health first aiders, mental health services or GP.

Additional Resources

WAMinar: Covid19 and Mental Health – June 2020

Watch Fiona Coyle, CEO of Mental Health Reform presentation at our June WAMinar.

Useful Links to Resources

Mental Health and Wellbeing in a time of Covid-19 from IBEC

 World Health Organisation: coping with stress during the 2019-Covid-19 outbreak:

Advice from the Health and Safety Authority around work related stress during Covid-19

Mental Health Organisations

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