Nervous about returning to work? There’s a tool kit for that

GUELPH – For anyone nervous or anxious about returning to their workplace, the Canadian Mental Health Association has prepared a tool kit to help employees navigate their fears and help employers create transition plans and policies so everyone can feel safe, confident and productive.

The tool kit, entitled Return to the workplace: A psychological toolkit for heading back to work, was developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario Division, in partnership with Mental Health Works and BounceBack Ontario.

It aims to support employees currently working from home and struggling with returning to the workplace.

The kit contains information about common emotions people may be feeling as they think about returning to their workplace and guides readers through coping strategies.

It also considers the perspective of employers, which are tasked with everything from safety and infection control to possible risks to the impact on productivity.

“It really comes down to open communication,” said Katrina Burch, mental health promotion and education services lead with the Waterloo-Wellington CMHA branch.

“Employers need to talk with staff about their plans, and staff need to be open and honest about their concerns.”

Burch said it’s all too easy to get into a negative mind-set, and that can become a vicious cycle.

“If you can change the thought pattern, you can change the behaviour,” she said.

The tool kit uses cognitive behaviour therapy to help change negative patterns to become more positive.

According to research released by CMHA Ontario in May, 59 per cent of Ontarians are finding it hard to be productive while in self-isolation, despite trying to make a daily routine.

Those who are employed are more likely to say they have a routine and at least somewhat follow it (51%).

A recent study by Deloitte found that for every $1 spent on mental health promotion or initiatives in the workplace, participating organizations saw a $1.63 return on investment.

“We’re hearing that most people are looking forward to getting back to normalcy,” Burch said.

“And most employers are putting time and thought into making a safe workplace.

“The tool kit can help with that transition.”

The Return to the Workplace tool kit can be found at