"Stress, fear and uncertainty" caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is having a big impact on workplaces.
However, health experts say it could also have a positive outcome by encouraging open conversations about mental health and wellbeing.
The comments coincide with the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson said Covid-19 was having an impact on New Zealanders' mental health.
"We know this from demand on services, feedback from communities and research. This is to be expected, it's a huge, unexpected threat impacting every part of our lives and it's only human for this to have an effect on us."
Fears over job security or loss of jobs almost inevitably also impacted mental health, he said.
"It's a really hard thing to go through and can cause a lot of stress, distress, fear and uncertainty. The best thing to do is hold onto the things you can control – make a list of things you can do if you need to – and make sure you prioritise your health and wellbeing."
Robinson said workplaces that were safe, supportive, inclusive and promoted wellbeing were typically more productive, had higher morale and job satisfaction.
"It's important for workplaces to acknowledge Covid-19 has made 2020 difficult but this challenge brings an opportunity to re-imagine wellbeing in the workplace and create stronger, more mentally healthy workplaces."
Massey University senior clinical psychologist and senior lecturer Kirsty Ross said for some people work was an important part of their identity and how they viewed themselves.
"From a mental health perspective, having meaning and purpose during the day in terms of getting up and having routines ... is actually really positive for our wellbeing before we even get to the financial benefits of having employment."
It was also important to note not everyone's experience of Covid-19 was the same, she said.
It was important employers got to know their staff as individuals so they did not make assumptions.
"I think there's real value in having a workplace where communication between staff in the managers enables people to say, 'hey, look, I'm really struggling. I've got these additional things going on that I need some extra help'."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said employers had generally been good at identifying those employees who had obvious stress-related symptoms.
"There has been heightened awareness from managers to be aware of psychosocial risks and work-related stress."
However, in his view, Covid-19 had made the symptoms less obvious as many more people were facing pressure from many aspects of their lives.
"They are worried about job security, kids, mortgages, stresses from family and friends. The compounding uncertainty and pressures caused by Covid, and the risks of future lockdowns, are a new risk for many people who have not experienced this before.
"People who usually appear resilient are facing significant pressure."
Employers were adjusting to the new stress levels of their staff and customers.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said people were under increased stress because of Covid-19 and the uncertainty it was causing to business.
But the indications were that Rotorua business was handling it with a fair degree of resilience.
"For example, we have just [last] week, closed off entries for the 2020 Westpac Rotorua Business Celebrating Rotorua's Resilience Awards. We have a huge number of entries – probably an all-time high. Categories like "Community Support and Care", "Employer of the Year" and "the Peoples' Choice" have been massively supported.
"This suggests a strong response to wellbeing by our businesses as all entries are per nomination by a third party."
The three Bay of Plenty chambers also run the Regional Business Partnership Covid-19 Support programme on behalf of the Government.
"This service triages government funding to businesses for many different specialist services including registered health and wellbeing experts. To date, there has not been as much call for this service as we might have expected."
Bay of Plenty Regional Council people and leadership director Karen Aspey said the council had a wellbeing programme which included a staff-led WorkWell group that promoted health and wellbeing among staff.
"Staff have access to resources via our intranet, the Employee Assistance Programme services, and in particular following the Covid lockdown we have created a positive, shared online area using Microsoft Teams where staff can get together virtually."
An emphasis had also been placed on Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.
"One of our key values at Toi Moana is Whanaungatanga and so we're taking the opportunity to bring staff together in a number of different activities in a safe way – some are in person such as small group lunchtime walks around our region while others are online sessions.
"It's actions such as this that we are seeing help reignite the feeling of community here at Toi Moana as many staff return to the office following their time working from home."
The regional council has 421 fulltime equivalents and had not made any redundancies due to Covid-19.
Ministry for Social Development DCE organisational assurance and communication Nadine Kilmister said people were its most important asset.
"We recognise that their mental health and wellbeing is crucial. Our focus is on early intervention and creating a mentally healthy workplace where our people are well supported, have a sense of purpose, feel valued and are thriving.
"We provide workplace mental health and wellbeing support to our managers and staff via an Employee Assistance Programme which includes access to a private and confidential counselling and coaching service, as well as a ministry-wide peer support network."
She said guidance and support were also offered from its Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead who was a registered psychologist.
Meanwhile, a survey of close to 1800 staff was carried out during the Covid-19 lockdown.
"The survey confirmed that staff felt well connected to their managers and leadership, and were getting good information and support. Post the Covid-19 Lockdown we have strengthened and expanded our Peer Support Programme.
"The uptake of manager and staff mental health and wellbeing sessions has increased, with particular focus on stress management, healthy coping strategies, self-care and resilience building. Managers actively encourage staff to utilise leave and are more focused on staff wellbeing and early identification of mental health issues."
In late February there were 388 staff employed in the Bay of Plenty region. As of August 31, the number of staff in the region had risen by 48 to 436 people employed in permanent and fixed-term roles.
Kilmister said clients who may be feeling overwhelmed, stressed or mentally unwell, were referred to the range of services offered by The Ministry of Health via their helpline Need to Talk - which can be accessed by calling or texting 1737.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Helpline: 1737
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.