The pandemic stripped many men and women of their livelihoods, confidence, self-worth and dreams; clouding future recovery with fear, frustration and anxiety.
Children, our children, our future leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, employees and shapeshifters are caught in this uncomfortable web too, their lives sorely upset by lockdowns, solitude and stress around them.
Business leaders, including the Auckland Business Chamber, reacted swiftly to Covid-19's creeping devastation on business at least. The Government listened and financial help was ploughed in to keep jobs and support employers and owners to survive the tsunami of debt and low or no revenue.
But there was also a realisation that rents, skills shortages, Covid-19 precautions and supply chain issues were only one face of the dilemma.
Unaddressed mental health and wellbeing issues were far more insidious and threatened future recovery – and so firststeps.nz was launched with a huge response to date from businesspeople, many with young families, who need someone to talk to, to listen, share the pain and help them rebuild confidence and resilience.
Now business must face our most important and far too often unrecognised stakeholders: our children.
Global research tells us that there is worldwide epidemic of childhood aggression, anxiety, depression and suicide, exacerbated by the cruel impacts of Covid on daily life.
There can be no "blah, blah, blah" promises of change for the better - to borrow the words of climate activist Greta Thunberg - we, business, government and the community, need to act urgently and decisively to help children develop the mental fitness necessary to thrive in school, work and life.
Our future as a nation depends on it.
The mental health of children and young people is our most precious resource to build a better world and, just as we value workplace cultures that nurture people and their wellbeing, we need to erect the scaffolding today to put wellbeing at the very core of our education, social and relationship systems.
It starts with us, at home, in the community and at school to teach and promote positive social and functional behaviours and emotional competence.
We need to be brave and transformational by placing emotional, mental and social health and wellbeing at the heart of education, ranked as seriously as competence in reading, writing and maths – and we hope analytical, investigative and digital capabilities.
We want a nation of happy, optimistic, socially and intellectually intelligent Kiwi kids willing, able and excited about having the tools to equip them to be resilient so they live their best life – come what may.
MindUP, an evidence-based programme for children aged three to 14, really interests us as a possible pathway to transform the way we teach, learn and live.
Founded by actress Goldie Hawn in 2003 and developed by neuroscience, education, mindfulness, and psychology experts, MindUP fosters the development of mental fitness and well-being of children, educators and parents.
Operating in 14 countries, it has positively impacted nearly 7 million children and trained over 175,000 teachers, successfully providing essential knowledge and tools to manage stress, regulate emotions and face the challenges of the 21st century with resilience.
We have come so far in recognising and supporting mental resilience, so now, it is time to mind the child.
• Michael Barnett is chief executive of the Auckland Business Chamber.