The thought of returning to work this fall amidst a global pandemic is a staggering thought for many, particularly with so many unknowns lurking around Canada's "new normal."

In response to concerns of those heading back to work, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has put together a toolkit to help put employees and employers' minds at ease.

The toolkit will help employers and employees navigate the mental health implications of returning to a physical workplace, the CMHA says.

"For employees, anxiety about returning to the previous ways of working and engaging with others is natural and expected. This toolkit aims to support employees currently working from home and struggling with thoughts about returning to the workplace," the CMHA says.

The toolkit was developed by CMHA Ontario and adapted for use in Manitoba. The psychological toolkit will provide guidance on how to support the mental health of individuals as they safely transition back to their places of employment.

The kit will also help employers to develop policies and procedures for staff returning to work.

Information in the toolkit addresses people's common emotions as they think about heading back to work and gives coping strategies for readers to follow.

"Just as employees may be struggling with thoughts about returning to the workplace, employers are having to consider several elements that need to be addressed as part of return-to-work planning," the CMHA notes.

From physical safety and controlling potential virus outbreaks to considering possible entry and exit risks for employees, the CMHA says tools will also be available for employers to mitigate their own mental health toll throughout this process.

In addition to addressing major topics like how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected employees and employers, the toolkit also provides tips on how to address concerns for both employees and employers at a given workplace so all can feel at ease while returning to work this fall.

Such tips for conversation include focusing on effects and participating in check ins as an employee, as well as advising employers build trust and encourage participation among their teams.

The full toolkit is available here.