Many anxious about returning to workplace

Concern about lack of mental health support
  • Deborah Condon

Over 40% of Irish adults are anxious about returning to their physical place of work, with women more anxious than men overall, a new survey has found.

While many people are still working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number are also returning to their places of work for at least part of their working hours. The new survey found that 42% are anxious about this - 47% of women and 38% of men.

Around 33% are also concerned that they will not have the mental health support that they need when they return to the workplace. This figure increases to 49% in the 18-24 age group.

However, 54% believe that returning to their physical workplace will have a positive impact on their mental wellbeing, while 68% believe that seeing their work colleagues again will have a positive impact.

The survey, which was commissioned by the Z Zurich Foundation and Rugby Players Ireland, also found that 39% of people feel that their current working situation has had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.

Some 38% also feel that their work-life balance has negatively impacted their mental wellbeing. This figure rises to 53% among the 25-34 age group.

The survey also found that 49% of people feel that their mental wellbeing has diminished during the COVID-19 pandemic, although 62% said they have been proactively looking after their mental health during this time.

The survey was carried out as part of the 'Tackle Your Feelings' campaign, which is a mental and wellbeing campaign run by Rugby Players Ireland in partnership with Zurich. According to campaign manager, Hannah McCormack, the survey also noted that one in 10 people had to take time off work during the pandemic due to mental health issues, and this rose to one in four in the 18-34 age group.

"The research highlights the significant impact this pandemic has had on people's mental wellbeing, and that many are anxious about the supports from employers as they prepare to return to their physical place of work.

"With more people returning to workplaces over the coming weeks and months, we believe the Tackle Your Feelings programme and other wellbeing initiatives will be a critical resource as people begin to adapt to their new working environments and try to take control of their mental wellbeing despite the uncertainty we are all facing," she commented.

Meanwhile, the survey also found that 63% of people are concerned about the impact a second lockdown would have on their mental health. This figure rises to 72% among the 18-24 age group.

Around 25% of people overall said that they did not think they would be able to manage a second lockdown, while this figure rose to around 50% among the 18-24 age group.

The survey was carried out in August 2020 by iReach and involved 1,238 people in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.


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