Coronavirus: Information about self-organisation and assistance

The measures taken by the Federal Council and the decree that we must work from home can have an impact on one's psyche and be very stressful for those who are affected.

In the following sections, you will find tips for employees and students on how to deal with isolation and working from home. There are also recommendations for superiors, as well as advice for crisis situations and contact information of places to turn to for help.

Tips on dealing with isolation and working from home for employees and students

Stick to your usual eating, sleeping, working, and studying times. Also, try to plan the day as precisely as possible, and to organise it proactively. This prevents you from feeling a lack of control or helplessness, and provides security.

Eat healthy, get enough sleep, avoid sitting for too long, and consciously give yourself short exercise breaks during the day. Go for walks, go jogging, go cycling (while continuing to observe hygiene measures), and take exercise at home. In addition to fitness equipment (e.g. stationary bicycles or rowing machines), there are also workouts (in German) that do not require any special equipment. Besides exercise, meditation and practicing relaxation is also helpful.

The bonds with family and friends provides support. Stay in touch with colleagues, friends and family. Do this spontaneously or by appointment.

If you are not accustomed to working from home, take time to get used to the new situation. This means, for example, that you can't expect­­- right from the start, to be as productive as you were before. Take the time you need and talk to your supervisor about it.

Talk about the situation - it is unusual and challenging for everyone. You do not have to deal with it alone. But you should also talk about other topics. For example, maintain coffee groups and drink coffee together via video conferencing.

If you are afraid of infection, do not let it control you completely. Instead, go outside - in compliance with "social distancing" and hygiene rules.

Stay informed about the situation through reliable and reputable sources, but place limits on access to news and social media. Take control of your push notifications.

Try not to think about all the possible problems you might encounter in the future. Remember that you are not alone and the situation will pass.

If you yourself are not under strict isolation rules and are able to help, support those in need, for example by running errands for them. On the other hand, also be understanding if someone does not wish to receive help from you.

If you feel that you need support, contact friends, family, and work colleagues and use the addresses below.

Set strict limits on your work to avoid becoming overwhelmed, and take time to rest. This includes limiting your availability (e.g. by phone, email or video conferencing tools) and communicating this accordingly.

Is there something positive about the situation? Can you find peaceful and quiet moments, or do you have more time for your children? Find out what is important to you in life.

Read a book, look at and organise holiday photos, tidy up, contact old acquaintances, meditate, try out a recipe, or play board games with your children. In other words, do something you have been wanting to do for a long time.

Special recommendations for persons belonging to a risk group

Explain to those around you that you belong to a risk group and must be particularly careful. You yourself know best which risks you still want to take and which you do not. In deciding, rely on the official recommendations of the FOPH

Even if you belong to a risk group, the probability that you would survive a COVID-19 infection without complications is very high.  Although the data is not yet clear, many chronic diseases have been classified as a risk as a precautionary measure. Most of the severe cases affect older people, often with some serious pre-existing conditions. It is difficult to determine which of these factors contribute to an increased risk.

Accept help, for example with shopping.

Recommendations for supervisors

  • Allow your employees time to adapt to the new situation (working from home, care for close relatives who are either infected or belong to risk groups, etc.).
  • Take into account that not everyone has the same conditions for working from home (lack of space, children, noise, no ergonomic workplace, no distractions during monotonous work).
  • Show understanding that not all employees can work equally efficiently under this particular burden. Do not put unnecessary, additional pressure on them, and work together to set realistic goals.
  • Contact your employees by telephone and talk to them. Take initiative to ask how they are doing in the current situation.
  • Organise online meetings in teams and small groups on a regular basis, and more often than usual.
  • Pay attention to your employees' work-life balance. For employees who are not used to working from home, maintaining a work-life balance can be a major challenge. Set a good example and take the pressure off. For example, write e-mails only during office hours.
  • Allow people, explicitly, to limit their availability (e.g. in MS Teams, Skype, Zoom).
  • Allow people to go to the office individually - while observing hygiene measures (e.g. rotation principle in offices with several workstations).

Recommendations for personal crisis situations

In acute crisis situations it is important to deal with the situation immediately and seek support:

  1. Stage 1: Recognize and react to your own warning signs early on.
    These include, for example, a persistent depressed mood, loss of joy, tension, fear and anger or even sleep disorders.
    What can I do for myself right now (e.g. distraction, relaxation, pleasant activity, exercise, going outdoors, etc.)?
  2. Step 2: Get support in your immediate environment (family, friends, colleagues).
    Conversation, whether by telephone or video conference, can be distracting on one hand, but on the other hand it opens up new perspectives when you need help.
  3. Stage 3: If stages 1 and 2 are not sufficient to cope with an acute crisis, do not hesitate to call on professional support.
  4. Stage 4: If your thoughts turn to death or suicidal intentions, you need concrete professional help as soon as possible.
    Please contact the psychiatric emergency service, on 031 632 8811.

If you are not in an acute crisis but notice that:

  • your fear is growing and dominating you
  • your thoughts only revolve around one topic
  • you can no longer think, act or work properly
  • you lack the drive to address tasks
  • you resort to addictive substances or are always eating too much
  • you feel paralyzed

then you should seek assistance.

Here you can find assistance:

  • Contact your family doctor
  • The Outstretched Hand offers support in crises, whether by telephone (immediate), e-mail (response within 48h) or SMS. The offer is free, anonymous and non-binding
    • Tel: 143 (adults)
    • Tel: 147 (teenagers and young adults)
    • More information can be found at:; (in German)
  • Psychiatric emergency: The emergency team of the University Hospital for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Bern is available 24 hours a day (365 days a year). You can contact them by telephone or present yourself directly at the emergency centre at Inselspital. The services of the Crisis Intervention Centre (KIZ) at the UPD's Murtenstrasse site are directed at all people who are in a psychosocial crisis.
  • Emergency call to doctors in Canton Bern (Medphone
    • Tel: 0900 57 67 47 (Fr. 3.23/min.)
    • For prepaid: 0900 57 67 67 48 (Fr. 3.50/min.)
  • Have you been directly affected by a crime or are you a relative of a person who has been affected, and do you have questions? The Bern Victim Support Service offers support here:
  • Parents' emergency call in the canton of Berne: For questions about upbringing, becoming overwhelmed, questions about parental presence, endangerment and maltreatment of children (24/7). Tel: 0848 35 45 55
  • Ambulance: In a life-threatening situation, whether due to accident or illness, contact them directly: Phone: 144
  • For employees and students: Advice centre for Bernese universities:
  • The university chaplaincies at the University of Bern offer pastoral care and counselling, especially in connection with the novel corona crisis. The discussions are confidential and open to all.
  • Psychotherapeutic Practice Office of the University of Bern: (in German)
  • Here you can find psychologists in your area (many are currently working via telephone or video conference): (in German)

Support in Corona Times: Offers for students


An international project called Horizon-2020, funded by the EU, is currently researching the consequences of the corona crisis in terms of its impact on mental health. It is a cooperation between fifteen research sites in five countries. Participation in the project is possible under the following link.

Protect yourself and others - hygiene rules (FOPH)