Travel professionals have praised the support of colleagues and their companies for helping them deal with grief and isolation over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sandra Corkin, managing director of agency Oasis Travel, explained how she is in regular contact with her team despite staff having been on furlough over the last year.

“We do a whole company call once a week,” she said, adding that as well as having coffee mornings, Oasis Travel employees are currently participating in a healing class, because “so many people have suffered loss.”

Corkin, who lost her brother, the company’s financial director, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, said it is important to encourage colleagues to admit when they don’t feel ok.

“It’s having the confidence to be honest with each other and know that we’re there to help and support each other,” she told Travel Weekly’s Mental Health Matters virtual brunch.

Emma Kayne, director of Kayne Travel said that the recent loss of her mum along with the effects of the pandemic has taken its toll, heightened by a fall out with an accountant.

“I was becoming quite angry and bitter,” she said. “I’ve never been a bitter person, but this was having that effect.”

Kayne credits her family and her team at the agency for helping to prop her up in the hard times. “There’s just three of us,” she said. “We are such a solid team. They’ve been fantastic throughout the whole pandemic.”

For those who might be facing similar struggles, Kayne said to take things one day at a time. “We can’t look after things that are beyond our control,” she added.

Natalie Holder, trade partnership manager at cruise line Hurtigruten said talking was important. “I think talking is the main thing,” she said. “Talk to your friends, talk to your family, and you’ll find out that everyone is behind you.

“You do have people that care no matter how alone you feel, and it does help bring you out the other side of that anxiety and loneliness.”

Holder credits Hurtigruten for keeping in contact with her when she was put on furlough and recognising the difficulties she faced.

“The general manager said, ‘I’m just at the end of a phone call’ and I feel comfortable that I can call him,” she told the session. “Having that open door policy is really important and not being afraid to air when you’re upset or scared.”

The Mental Health Matters Virtual Brunch also saw a second panel discuss the mental health considerations that have been put in place in travel businesses. The government’s mental health ambassador, Dr Alex George, also spoke at the event.

This is the latest instalment in Travel Weekly’s Mental Health Matters initiative, which offers resources, coverage and information.

Help and support

If you, or someone you know, is affected by mental health problems, and you need further support or advice, contact the Samaritans free of charge on 116 123.

The Mental Health Foundation has a portfolio of resources on how to look after your mental health during the coronavirus crisis.

Abta LifeLine offers services including counselling and support.