'Long after this virus has gone many people may still be struggling - we simply must give them support.'
As a former contestant on the BBC hit show The Apprentice, Leah Totton is used to dealing with pressure. The Northern Ireland-born doctor and entrepreneur won the competition in 2013 and has since become one of Lord Alan Sugar's most successful business partners ever.
Leah runs a chain of Dr Leah cosmetic clinics in London with Lord Sugar, but the pandemic has forced the business partners to put expansion plans on hold. She says the impact that Covid-19 has had on the mental wellbeing of her team of employees has left her very concerned.
'Lockdown has been very hard - I know this from speaking to a lot of my employees. Some of them are young women in their early twenties. They’ve never experienced anything like the uncertainty or the fear this pandemic has created. It is almost incomprehensible the amount of turmoil this has caused for many people.'
'Many employees have been at home for months, then they are back in, often in a completely different work environment. Some may be deskilled because they haven’t been working at all for those months. It has been really challenging and I really sympathise with workers who’ve been through that.'
For Leah, throwing herself into work, where possible, was the key to maintaining her mental wellbeing. 'I worked from home quite a lot doing online consultations,' she tells us. 'My staff were furloughed but I worked remotely throughout the entire first lockdown. And I did quite a lot of running, which was helpful for me. But the challenge for someone who owns a business, is different to the challenge of a person employed within a business. I was able to find work to do for my business, whether we were open or closed. It’s my whole life, it’s my creation, it’s a different thing. I think it is important to bear this in mind when you try to measure the impact it has on people.'
'But it doesn’t matter who you are or where you work, everyone needs to take time out to look after their mental health. As a society we need to be mindful that long after this virus has gone many people may still be struggling to cope with the impact it has had. They must be given proper care and support.'