The pandemic has cast a spotlight on the need to support mental health in the workplace.

This third lockdown, coming in January, has heightened anxiety levels as many people try to cope with remote working, home schooling, isolation, dark evenings and adhering to restrictions to keep Covid-19 from their homes.

It is a trying time.

The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health was launched by the World Economic Forum yesterday.

Its mission is to "raise awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace and facilitate the adoption of best practices." 

Its founding members include CEOs from companies such as Deloitte, HSBC, Salesforce and Unilever.

They are urging the business community to "prioritise and invest in the mental health of all employees" as both a business necessity and a societal imperative, especially given the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on mental health. 

Stephanie Regan is a Clinical Psychotherapist who works with employers in providing employee assistance programmes. She said employers in Ireland are trying to do the right thing, and they have realistic expectations of what can be achieved and delivered in these times.

"I think employers have gone a very long way in trying to address that. Any organisation that I'm dealing with, which would be medium and small, they have been very active on this," Ms Regan said.

"They are being very flexible with their staff in terms of childcare, and making sure they have the right situation at home," she stated,

Employers, can lead by example and model their behaviour to show staff what is expected of them. 

"They have to show that they themselves are managing in the same way, that they are also people with children, with stresses, with lives that are complex and difficult, and parents they're concerned about. They should lead by example, and step back digitally at the end of the day," Ms Regan said.

She said while employers can support staff, employees themselves are best placed to mind their mental health.

"You really have to do this for yourself. No one can mind you better than yourself," she stressed.

"Make sure you have a psychological bridge between work and home. In other words, get up and do something for half an hour or an hour before you start your work. Don't step out of bed in your pyjamas and sit at your computer, that is bad psychologically," she advised. 

"Don't stay on Zoom all of the time. These meeting should be shorter. Close the virtual door," she added.

Meanwhile, the Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health is encouraging the leaders of other businesses - large or small - to join them in advancing "the desperately needed conversation around creating an open, welcoming, and supportive workplace environment for all when it comes to mental health".

Business leaders are encouraged to sign a pledge committing their organisation to promoting and developing a more positive culture around mental health.