Covid-Related Anxiety and Distress in the Workplace: A Three Part Guide For Managers and Colleagues 2/3

Part 2 RELIEVE the pressure: Helping yourself and others to adapt and cope

Consider different ways of working to reduce fears or concerns related to work and the workplace.

In order to adapt to the changes ahead, try to inform yourself of any new requirements and prepare

what you need to reduce potential anxiety. Additional training, resources, or mentoring may be necessary for adapting to new ways of working. It is normal to find that making adjustments is not easy and to be concerned by recent events. Settling into a new routine takes time.



Are you being realistic? Relieve some of the pressure by setting realistic expectations and targets.

There may be very good reasons why someone is struggling. Look at the factors in the work setting that are causing pressure and find ways to minimise or control these pressures to the lowest level you can.

Extended high levels of anxiety? If this is over a prolonged period and starting to have a negative

impact on mental or physical health, managers should encourage colleagues to:

  • talk about what they’re experiencing
  • consider internal peer support structures
  • see their general practitioners
  • take up remote support
  • consider being referred to occupational health
  • if available, consider self-referral to your employees’ assistance programme, Health Assured, this service is available 24/7, 365 to give compassionate support to your people, whatever challenges they face.

We know that managers are looking for new ways to address staff wellbeing, which led  MIND to develop the Wellness Action Plan (WAP), a tool that helps colleagues manage their mental health and wellbeing at work. MIND’S Workplace Wellbeing team provides guidance and support for employers on how to implement a comprehensive approach to managing staff mental health, including how to promote the wellbeing of staff, tackle the causes of work-related mental health problems and support staff who are experiencing a mental health problem. This tool is one in a series of resources aimed at supporting staff mental health. To read more about Wellness Action Plans take a look at their web site,


What should a WAP cover?

  • approaches you will take and behaviours you can adopt to support your mental wellbeing
  • early warning signs of poor mental health that your manager or supervisor can look out for
  • any workplace triggers for poor mental health or stress
  • the potential impact of poor mental health on your performance if any
  • what support you need from your line manager
  • actions and positive steps you and your manager will take if you are experiencing stress
  • or poor mental health
  • an agreed time to review the WAP and any support measures that have been put in
  • a place to see if they’re working
  • anything else that you feel would be useful in supporting your mental health

Do you create opportunities for support? Organisations can create opportunities for managers to

discuss their experiences together as part of routine meetings or during sessions arranged for this.

The links below take you to resources that have been effective in healthcare settings but can be

used in many different workplaces. Most require no training. What about holidays? Annual leave may have been disrupted by the lockdown. Colleagues should be encouraged to consider taking breaks from work. If workloads are high, they may be reluctant to do this but it is still very important that they take time away from work.



How to do your job in the new normal? How will workplace changes affect your job performance?

Discuss this with your manager and agree on targets, expectations, and training.

How to find support? When you need to, make use of the support offered by your employer, (e.g.

occupational health, EAP, or external sources). If your mental or physical health has been affected:

  • Make an appointment with your GP and/or ask to be referred to occupational health.
  • as your manager about creating a plan to help you.


Source: British Psychological Society GUIDANCE Covid-related anxiety and distress in the workplace: A guide for Managers and Colleagues | BRE40a | 02.09.2020

Written by:

Marie Church
RN BSc Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (OH) Expert Witness
Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist MSc (BABCP Accredited)