DesignInc Sydney is committed to providing a safe, healthy and supportive environment for our team’s growth and development. Keeping up with this commitment, each year we support R U OK? Day with discussions about wellbeing, mental health, how to look out for each other and how to initiate check ins with our workmates.

R U OK? Day is a national day of action dedicated to encouraging people to ask “Are you ok?” to support those struggling with life. Statistics show that nearly half of the Australian adult population will experience mental illness at some point in their lifetime (2017 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, 2016), and one in five Australian employees report they have taken time off work due to feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy in the past 12 months (State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia, 2014).ruok

“We spend a significant amount of time at work and it’s important to recognise the impact workplace culture can have on the mental health of employees. At DesignInc we recognise this and promote a culture that supports the physical and mental wellbeing of all our team members,” says DesignInc Sydney’s Human Resources Manager Shumaila Ali. “We encourage work-life balance across all levels in the organisation and support team members in managing their professional and personal lives by offering flexible working arrangements. We also offer a formal mentoring program and organise social activities to promote positive workplace relationships.”

 R U OK? Day’s mission is to inspire and empower people to meaningfully connect with those around them by asking “Are you ok?” Regular, face-to-face, meaningful conversations about life can help prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation and make a real difference for those experiencing a tough time. It also helps reduce the stigma around mental illness and increases the likelihood that people will access professional support when it’s needed. Starting the conversation with a simple “Are you ok?” helps provide a safe and healthy workplace, and lets people know they have the support of their peers. “Supporting events such as R U OK? Day allows us to express and reinforce our commitment to the wellbeing of our team,” says Shumaila.

This year, DesignInc organised a week-long program in support of R U OK? Day, initiating conversation and discussion about how to show support for the wellbeing of friends, family and colleagues.

“During the week, staff received emails with resources on how to ask “Are you ok?” at work, and a dedicated office space is set up for our team to have “Are you ok?” conversations. We also participated in a meditation and mindfulness session and wore yellow on 13 September in support of the day,” says Shumaila.

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DesignInc also celebrated the Jewish New Year on 12 September. Senior Landscape Architect Miriam baked a traditional honey cake and we enjoyed a morning tea with fresh fruits and tarts. “This celebration during the week was just another way for us to recognise the diverse cultures and to promote inclusivity. I strongly believe that an inclusive and supportive team culture is the foundation of a mentally healthy workplace,” Shumaila says.