Take Mental Health Awareness to Work
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
Even though many of us have been confined to our four walls these last few months, mental health is an important aspect of our wellbeing. With the impending return to the office for many, or even if you're continuing to work from home it's time to take stock of how you and your colleagues are looking after your mental health.
October is Mental Health Month
Each October in New South Wales, Mental Health Month is celebrated with a specific theme, with the aim of sharing resources, encouraging events and raising awareness of different aspects of our mental health. The World Health Organisation has listed mental health as a key component of overall health & wellbeing, and it’s not surprising when considering that mental health disorders will affect 46% of people aged 16 – 85 at least once in their lifetime. Mental health affects not just the individual, but their families, carers, work colleagues and the wider community.
Mental Health Month encourages “all of us to think about our mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether we may have a lived experience of mental illness or not It also gives us the opportunity to understand the importance of good mental health in our everyday lives and encourages help seeking behaviours when needed”.
The theme for Mental Health Month 2021 is “Tune In”
Take time to tune in and be mindful of what’s happening to you, your community, your family, your workplace and importantly, to tune into the stigma that hangs over mental health issues.
Mental Health in the Workplace
According to BeyondBlue, 1 in 5 employees will have taken time off work in the last 12 months because they feel mentally unhealthy, anxious or stressed. While the vast majority of workplace leaders (81%) acknowledge their organisation has policies to support mental health, around 35% of employees don’t know about or how to access these resources. It has been shown that in a workplace considered mentally healthy, absenteeism due to mental health issues almost halves. It seems fitting that organisational leaders should give the same priority to employees mental health as they do with physical health and safety.
What can you do in the workplace?
Talk about it
In addition to these great tips, business leaders need to talk about mental health. Not just in October, but regularly with employees, as much as discussing other aspects of health and wellbeing. Talking about it helps to remove any stigma about mental health and that it’s OK to ask for support if you need it.
People will tell you meditation isn’t for them. Many people have never tried it. If you've never tried it even just a few minutes of mindfulness can make a difference. The best outcomes result from practicing meditation over a period of time. There are plenty available, but here is one that I've used and quite enjoy the quick and comfortable format.
The New South Wales government sponsors training, facilitated by the Black Dog Institute, for businesses up to 200 employees. The program is for executives, managers and employees to build skills around having healthier mental states. Stress and reduced mental health can come from so many factors. Everyone is different. The training helps recognise the sources of stress, how to recognise it in ourselves and support others.
Exercise, yoga, meditation, acupuncture and massage are all positive activities. Perhaps you could organise a team exercise challenge to raise awareness of Mental Health at the same time as getting outdoors and reaping the rewards of regular movement. Or maybe you could have a calendar of activities that encourage tuning in, being present and taking care of yourself.
Remember that good nutrition, physical activity, surrounding yourself with people who can support you and asking for help if you need it are all valuable ingredients to your mental wellbeing.
If you or someone you know needs help please call:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636