Australians are known to be strong and resilient, coining the phrase “she’ll be right,” but now more than ever we need to recognise and understand the value of being kind to ourselves and giving ourselves the permission and the space to have conversations about mental health.
According to the Black Dog Institute, 1 in 5 Australians between 16-85 experience mental illness every year. Our mental health can impact our all facets of our life, and we don’t need to manage this alone, or without support.
The strength of our membership network
One of our strengths at AND is our membership network. We have the opportunity to share the ways in which different organisations address a range of topics – like mental health.
In the lead up to R U OK day and beyond, AND will be tapping into that network and exploring the multitude of ways that three of our member organisations are supporting mental health and wellbeing through their tools, programs and practices.
Through sharing these methods, we hope that our members can be inspired or encouraged to implement some of these learnings into their own workplaces and continue to consider mental health in the workplace.
An ongoing conversation
Acknowledging the conversations around mental health on inaugural days like R U OK day is important, but conversations should not stop here. Mental health and wellbeing can impact us at any time. Having those conversations takes courage and bravery, but is also facilitated by a supportive culture.
Here are some small activities that we do at AND that you can easily implement at your workplace today. These are small changes that you can make as an individual to create an open culture and to support mental health and wellbeing:
Developing and writing a self-care plan helps you to think about and priortise your mental health and well-being. The self-care plan can take any shape you like – but having a written document can help remind you of the steps you can take to make the best choices for you. Outlining what you can do to support yourself physically, emotionally and psychologically helps you take a holistic approach with your mental health and wellbeing.
Self-care plans can be flexible and change at any time. Plans can easily adapt to new circumstances, and if a certain task is no longer working to support you, it’s easy to swap it out. You can share the plan with someone to keep you accountable, or you can keep it to yourself. If you do decide to share it with your wider team, managers are able to identify what their employees need support.
Tasks can include anything to support you – like making sure you take breaks during the day, getting outside for lunch, logging off on time, or flagging challenging workloads with your manager.
The self-care plan can be informal – something as simple as a list you keep on your desk that only you see – or they can formalised, and you can discuss with your manager at each one-on-one. It’s whatever works best for you, so you can bring your best self to work.
Sometimes chatting to someone really helps. At work, why not buddy up with a colleague to catch-up with to destress or to discuss. Implementing a buddy system may look like a quick 15 minute catch-up every other week during work to discuss anything and everything. Or, it may look like a half-an-hour check in weekly.
Whatever it looks like, a buddy system helps us support each other.
Check in at the beginning of meetings
Have a team catch up, or a one-on-one? Why not start the conversation with a check-in before getting down to agenda items?
This creates a positive and open culture in your workplace and may help alleviate some stress, or open discussions to problem-solving if you need the assistance.
Stretch breaks/online dance breaks
It’s easy to lose sight of getting up from the desk when working from home. Here at AND, we implement stretch breaks and/or online dance breaks in the afternoon.
Invite some co-workers, play some music and together stretch for the length of the song.
Gather socially – either in person or online
Working life looks different for everyone now, but it’s still important to have a social chat. You can organise a monthly lunch with the team to be social, whether in person or virtual, it’s a great way to connect with your team and to provide that much needed social support.
Stay tuned for more ideas on mental health support shared by our members.
If you, or anyone you know, needs support you can:
- Utilise the Black Dog Institute’s digital tools and apps
- Use ReachOut’s tools and apps
- Find R U OK day resources you can use every day
If you our someone you know needs urgent support, you can contact lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.