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Rugby Players Ireland and Zurich have revealed new research for the Tackle Your Feelings mental wellbeing campaign, funded by the Z Zurich Foundation, on the Irish public’s attitudes and perceptions towards their return to their workplace, and their mental wellbeing. This week many workplaces are set to welcome staff back for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19, with staff and employers adapting to new working conditions.

The research revealed some two in five Irish people are anxious about returning to their physical place of work, with women more likely to state they are anxious than men (47% vs 38%). Furthermore, one in three people reported they are concerned they won’t have the mental wellbeing support they need when returning to their workplace. This increases to half (49%) of 18-24 year olds.

The research, commissioned by the Z Zurich Foundation & Rugby Players Ireland and conducted by iReach highlights the significant issue of mental wellbeing for Irish people as a result of COVID-19;

  • Over a third (39%) state their current working situation has had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing,
  • 40% of Irish people are unsure how to manage their mental wellbeing, and this rises to 57% of 18-24 year olds, and 55% of 25-34 year olds. Just 3 in ten people are using online resources or Apps to support their mental wellbeing,
  • For over a third of people (38%) their work-life balance has negatively impacted on their mental wellbeing, and the 25-34 year olds were most likely to experience this at 53%,
  • Six in ten people state the outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted on their mental wellbeing, with 49% stating their mental wellbeing has diminished. 62% state they have been proactively looking after their mental wellbeing during the pandemic.

The research also revealed some of the supports that employers have put in place with 46% stating their employer or line manager has provided additional mental wellbeing resources as a result of COVID-19.

Over half (54%) of Irish people believe returning to their physical place of work will positively impact their mental wellbeing, with 6 in ten people (62%) reporting they have a good team in work who help them maintain their mental wellbeing, and this increases to 74% of 25-34 year olds. 68% of Irish people believe seeing their work colleagues again will have a positive impact on their mental wellbeing.

However, half of the respondents don’t think their manager or line manager provides adequate mental wellbeing resources for them and their colleagues and four in ten people state they are hiding a lot of issues and challenges they are facing from their employer.

Commenting on the research, Tackle Your Feelings Campaign Manager, Hannah McCormack said: “The research also revealed one in ten Irish people had to take time off work due to their mental wellbeing during the pandemic and this rises to one in four 18-34 year olds. It 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 and 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.”

The TYF [Tackle Your Feelings] App and website encourages people to be proactive about their mental wellbeing. Users can choose the Tackle Your Feelings resources they feel they need at the time. The app and website also feature sections on Relationships, Confidence, Happiness/Sadness, Sleep, Self-Care, Resilience, Anger, Relaxation, Optimism and Self-Awareness. It also has a Mindfulness section where users can select from several mindfulness exercises.

Anthony Brennan, CEO, Zurich Ireland commented: “The lessons we have learned from the last number of months about the challenges that many of our staff, and people in Ireland and globally have to deal with have been very important. Now as we begin to plan our own journey back to our physical office, we believe that the Tackle Your Feelings programme is more relevant than ever before. At a time when health and safety are at the forefront of all of our minds, we need to remember that our mental wellbeing will also play a vital role in our recovery.  We at Zurich are proud to support Tackle Your Feelings and hope it is a valuable resource for many in the coming months.”

Anthony Brennan, Zurich, Eimear Considine and David O’Dowd, Zurich
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Simon Keogh, CEO, Rugby Players Ireland commented: “The rugby players returned to work in July and many were experiencing similar concerns to those of the general public. We, along with the provinces and IRFU, have worked closely with the players throughout the lockdown and since they returned to play to ensure they are aware of all mental wellbeing resources available to them. We’re delighted that a number of the players have shared their own stories of resilience to spotlight the importance of mental wellbeing and offered insight into how they coped during the pandemic to inspire and support others.”

The research also highlighted concerns around the potential for a second lockdown, with almost two thirds (63%) of Irish people concerned about the impact a second lockdown would have on their mental wellbeing which rises to 72% of 18-24 year-olds. One in four people stated they don’t think they would be able to manage a second lockdown rising to half of 18-24 year olds.