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Back to School and Work Amid the ‘New Normal’: Continuing Consequences of the Pandemic on Our Health and Wellbeing

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 23 Sep 2021

What Does the ‘New Normal’ Mean for Our Wellbeing?

Children have returned to school, many people are returning to the office and we’re living the ‘new normal’ – but what impact have recent events really had on our community?

The pandemic has caused considerable changes in our lives, especially for children and young people. While some have adjusted easily, others have struggled with the challenges, and experienced unwanted feelings, low mood, and anxiety.

Routines have been disrupted and changes in the expectations surrounding being at work or school, mask-wearing, social distancing, self-isolating, and frequent testing have been life-changing and overwhelming for many children and workers across the UK.

There’s no right or wrong way for children or adults to have reacted, and everyone’s been affected differently.

Coronavirus, Brexit and their impact

The pandemic and ongoing levels of restrictions in place all over the UK is an extraordinary situation that continues to impact our lives. And in the wake of another unprecedented event, namely Brexit in 2019, that saw UK companies frantically developing emergency plans for their business after the EU Exit. When the pandemic suddenly materialised, company attention shifted and staff focusing on Brexit were reassigned to tackle the immediate and prevalent effect of COVID-19. As we return to work and children return to school, it will be difficult to truly gauge the full effect these events have had on children, young people and adults alike – and how our wellbeing and mental health have fared, until we fully emerge from it.

The reopening of society

And now, many company leaders find themselves facing a cautious reopening of the economy while also grappling with the drastic change in trading terms with the EU.

Undoubtedly, COVID-19’s initial economic shockwave was considerably larger than any immediate blow that came from Brexit. Particularly the influence on demand – domestic and foreign – which has been more substantial than anything we’ve ever seen before. However, Brexit will also have a ubiquitous, longer-term impact.

Coronavirus and mental health

In June 2021, 49% of the UK felt worried or distressed because of coronavirus, which was down from 62% in mid-March( However, many of us continue to suffer mentally with the stress and aftermath of COVID-19. A recent survey conducted by MIND reveals that one in four people will suffer from some kind of mental health issue annually in England. So, it’s vital to look at the impact of the pandemic over time and be aware of employees and colleagues who may require more assistance with a mental illness as their social situation alters throughout every recovery phase.

How we help our members’ mental health 

Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce genuinely cares about its members’ wellbeing. We’re passionate about promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace, and in schools, and are involved with a range of initiatives to support this.

Recently, our member The Mental Vitamins Academy, ran a preventative course to assist the overwhelming number of staff experiencing stress and anxiety. The course was led by professionally trained therapists, David Ball and  Bonita Ackerman du Preez, who delivered group sessions on identifying the causes of anxiety and teaching the latest modern methods to sweep away troubling emotions.

We also offer a selection of events for business leaders to network and make contact with other members, as we all know running a company can be a lonely place, which can lead to your mental health suffering considerably. Especially with the added stresses Brexit and Covid-19 have introduced.

Why not form new business connections at our Connect Over Coffee event which takes place in a virtual room alongside other local businesses? And don’t miss the Road to Recovery Seminar running soon, where delegates will be encouraged to take a fresh look at their company and apply the tools and understanding obtained to accelerate their recovery.

Moreover, we offer a Chamber Primary Health Plan to all our members to enable staff to claim money back on things like sight tests, dental bills, therapy treatments, and consultations. The plan also offers access to wellbeing and health benefits, including (but not limited to):

  • A scanning service (MRI, CT, and PET scans)
  • A 24-hour information and advice line
  • Up to six face-to-face counselling sessions
  • A DoctorLine™ service

Ready to become a member? Visit: and complete the online form, or give us a call on 01582 522 448, and our friendly team will be more than happy to help.

Topics: brexit, productivity, Mental health, COVID-19

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