Mental health resources for your people during this pandemic

December 09, 2020

This once-in-a-lifetime pandemic is testing the mental health of all of us.

Half of Canadians reported that their mental health had worsened during the first wave, according to a survey by the Angus Reid Institute.

Twenty-four percent of Canadians report that their mental health has worsened during the second wave of the crisis, according to a Leger survey.

Business leaders need to ask themselves:

How can I best support my people now?

How can I be a better leader for my team when it comes to mental health?

Lead by example

Harvard Business Review advises that “when we acknowledge our mental health, we get to know ourselves better, and are more authentic people, employees, and leaders. Research has found that feeling authentic and open at work leads to better performance, engagement, employee retention, and overall well-being.”

Talking about mental wellness is an important facet of self-care for all members of the team—including leaders. Communication lessens stigmatization and supports team members.

Lead with communication

While teams are virtual, it's even more important to maintain open and authentic channels of communication than it is when it's business-as-usual and in person. Genuine communication will help you provide your employees with a healthy, safe, inclusive, accessible, and supportive workplace.

Begin the conversation by sharing resources that support mental wellness—and sharing your experiences.

If your organization has a employee-and-family assistance plan (EFAP), start by providing information on how to access the confidential service—most EFAPs are available 24/7/365 and are an immediate resource.

Lead with access to mental health resources

While not exhaustive, we've curated a list of available resources to support conversations around mental wellness in your workplace.

Government of Canada: Taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government is providing tips to manage mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and contact information for immediate help. The website also features a link to Wellness Together Canada, which offers free tools and resources to support Canadians with mental health and substance use. Employers should also consider providing links to local resources in their province or territory.

Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH): COVID-19 and mental health

CAMH provides resources to manage mental health during the pandemic. Topics include responding to employee anxiety, remaining social in a time of physical distancing, and stress-management information.

Employers should also be aware of CMHA's Not Myself Today program, which provides learning modules and other tools for employees to manage their mental health. Designed to support employees at all times, the program has been supplemented with information specific to COVID-19. CMHA charges a nominal fee from participating businesses—typically $5 per employee annually. Employees create a password-protected account to access this online program. Learn more about Not Myself Today.

CAMH: Mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic (additional resources)

CAMH also offers information sheets on topics such as dealing with anxiety and talking to children about COVID-19. This COVID-19 resource page provides information tailored to specific audiences—such as youth and retail frontline staff.

Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists

The Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists (OSP) website is designed to help people to find therapists in recognized modalities not limited to the medical model. All OSP Clinical and Qualifying Members are Registered Psychotherapists who meet rigorous standards of practice and ethics. Many employee-benefits plans cover psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, as well as psychiatry.

Stronger Minds by BEACON

Videos, text-based resources, and resilience-building activities are available through Stronger Minds by BEACON to help participants overcome worry, stay positive, and deal with isolation—and all content is based on the insights of clinical psychologists.

The School of Life

The School of Life, “an organization built to help us find calm, self-understanding, resilience, and connection, especially during troubled times,” also offers articles and videos—as well as virtual workshops and social events, online therapy, and other resources.

The School of Life emphasizes “the need to understand ourselves better, so we can secure serenity and make optimally reliable decisions, particularly around love and work.”


Headspace is an app that provides guided meditations to help people sleep, relax, and stay focused. While usually a paid service, Headspace has made part of its collection freely available during COVID-19.


Calm is an app that helps users sleep better, boost confidence, and reduce stress and anxiety by using guided meditations, relaxing music, and bedtime stories. There is a 7-day free trial but the app does have an annual cost.

Mental health: Not just a COVID-19 issue

While the ongoing COVID-19 crisis may inspire you to discuss mental wellness with your colleagues, the conversation should continue during the next normal.

Communicate consistently, clearly, compassionately—sharing your own humanity—and take these practices with you to your post-coronavirus workplace.

To learn more about supporting your employees during the time of COVID-19, reach out to our People Advisory team

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