You are now in the main content area

Mental Health and Wellbeing Return To Campus Guide for Employees

Ryerson campus

In the coming months, the process of shifting from remote work to in-person work is a big task for the university. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the daily routines of Canadians and drastically impacted the mental health and wellbeing of individuals.

Therefore, creating conditions that support wellbeing will help in building resilience as individuals navigate challenging situations. The purpose of this guide is to shed light on some of the challenges that individuals are going through and provide tips to support employees in fostering their own health and wellbeing and the wellbeing of their colleagues as they transition back to onsite work.

Jump to:

Challenges you may be facing

Man working on computer in the evening
  • Prolonged exposure to stress 
  • Loss, grief, and uncertainty
  • Struggles with focus 
  • Trauma and race-based trauma 
  • Domestic violence
  • Gender-based violence 
  • Quarantine, isolation, and loneliness 
  • Managing multiple demands 
  • Working on campus throughout pandemic

Impacts of challenges

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Sadness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loss of interest
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fear (i.e. taking public transportation, heightened risk of contracting COVID as the number of students and employees on campus increase)
  • Burnout
  • Hopelessness
  • Stress
  • Anger
  • Mistrust
  • Depression
  • Decline in physical health

How to be responsive to your challenges

Person looking out at water

Normalize common challenges

  • Remind yourself that we are in this together and everyone is experiencing challenges.
  • Accept fear and anxiety that you may experience as you adjust to the new normal.
  • Engage in conversation with colleagues about the return to campus and know the guideline and protocols
  • Recognize that return to campus may be transitional and your needs may change, discuss your needs with your supervisors prior to and during the transition
Person resting head on friend's shoulder

Create space for well-being and cultivate connection

  • Seek Support for yourself if you are struggling and learn about supports available.
  • Be Patient, Proactive, and Specific when communicating with your supervisor or colleagues.

Tips to support your wellbeing

Staff working at a desk
Student wearing mask on campus
  • Ask for continued workplace flexibility - by reaching out to your supervisor, or Workplace Wellbeing Services if you require accommodation due to a disability or health-related matter.
  • Avoid overthinking about the future - continuous thoughts about things that have not happened increase anxiety and reduce focus. To overcome these thoughts have daily plans and ensure to stick with your plan.
  • Bring your healthy habits to your office - you might have enjoyed exercising during lunchtime or starting your day earlier. 
    • Communicate these with your supervisor and bring in moments of enjoyment to your work as you make the transition.
  • Open up to your supervisor - by communicating your challenges and specifying what will help you address the challenge.
  • Open up and connect with colleagues - as you are not alone in your worries. Sharing tips and coping techniques with colleagues will help you through the transition back to the office.
  • Practice - any changes in your routine before returning to the workplace, such as waking up earlier, getting dressed in work clothes or preparing lunch to take to the office. Practicing these changes in a routine before returning can assist in alleviating anxiety about the transition.
An essential worker at Toronto Metropolitan University taking a phone call
Student wearing a mask sitting at a desk behind plexiglass points to instructions about health screening as another student in mask listens
  • Reflect - on positive experiences and express gratitude for the things you have accomplished
  • Read - about the return to campus safety measures to keep yourself, colleagues, and students safe.
  • Set clear boundaries and ease yourself in - by letting go of your expectations around perfection, and embrace what’s important to you on that day.
  • Speak to professionals and seek help if you experience continuous anxiety.
Ryerson quad
  • Prioritize wellness and practice self-care
  • Continue to be a support to your family, students, and colleagues
  • Be kind to yourself and listen to your bodies reaction
  • Avoid multitasking
  •  (PDF file) Stretch regularly at your desk and take regular short movement breaks to boost your focus


  • Workplace Wellbeing Services - Provides information, guidance and support to leaders and employees when an employee experiences a health-related issue that may result in short or long term sick leave or when they require accommodations.
  • Wellbeing and Burnout Prevention Sessions - Staff and faculty are encouraged to attend the University-wide webinars Notice, Engage, Refer + Debrief program. Condensed versions can be accessed online.
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing - Offers on-campus, online, and in community resources for supporting the Toronto Metropolitan University community.
  • ThriveRU - Provides training and resources to Toronto Metropolitan students, faculty and staff in order to teach the skills associated with resilience, well-being and thriving in both an academic and personal context.
  • Recreation - Provides regular physical activity programs to all Staff, Faculty, and Students.
  • Consent Comes First - Provides support to Toronto Metropolitan community members affected by sexual violence.
  • EFAP - The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is a confidential and voluntary support service that can help with many kinds of problems and challenges for all employees (who are eligible for benefits).
  • Hope For Wellness (external link)  - The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. If asked, counsellors can also work with you to find other wellness supports that are available near you. Phone and chat counselling is available in English and French.
  • Naseeha Helpline (external link)  - is a confidential helpline for Muslims to receive immediate, anonymous, and confidential support. Call 1-866-627-3342 (7 days a week, 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. EST)
  • Psychological Counselling (external link)  - Employees (MAC, RFA, OPSEU (FTCE, PYE, Term over 12 month) are entitled to $3500 per year towards psychological counselling services (plus massage, naturopathy etc.)
  • Talk4Healing (external link)  - 24/7 peer support for Indigenous women. Individuals have the option of talk, text and chat service (available in 14 languages) for a safe space to connect.
  • The 519 (external link)  - provides phone or email check-in for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
  • Trans Lifeline's Hotline (external link)  - is a peer support phone service for trans and questioning people.
  • Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (Canada Life) (external link)  - Provides free tools and strategies to enhance mental wellbeing in the workplace.