October 10 is World Mental Health Day – a day for mental health education, awareness and advocacy. At DesignInc, we actively support our team’s mental health throughout the year with a holistic program of workshops, classes and initiatives to aid their wellbeing.
We know the scale and intensity of projects undertaken by DesignInc can bring stress and pressure to our team, and we work hard to recognise and manage these risks. We want our employees to maintain their work-life balance and to contribute to a culture where everyone feels safe and supported to talk about mental health.
“We are conscious of our employees’ wellbeing and make sure they know we care,” says Tara Keast, DesignInc Human Resources Manager. “We want to eliminate stigma around mental health and to initiate conversations so that we can support our team to better cope with work or life pressures. Talking about mental health is an individual and daunting experience. But talking to someone who has had a similar experience can make it feel less daunting.”
DesignInc has introduced the following programs to help initiate that conversation.
Image source: 1010.org.au
Black Dog Institute, in partnership with SafeWork NSW, offers free mental health skills training. We invited Black Dog to run training workshops with DesignInc managers and employees, teaching us how to identify early signs of mental ill-health; how to support each other; and how to have effective conversations around mental health. The workshops received extremely positive feedback, and helped people recognise if they or others are struggling with mental ill-health.
For Mental Health Month in October, our team will undertake resilience building training, helping staff to identify, manage and bounce back from difficult challenges and stressful situations. These tools and strategies will not only be effective in the workplace, but applicable for life in general.
We run weekly meditation and yoga classes, encouraging staff to take a break and draw a breath while practicing mindfulness or movement. The 45-minute lunchtime classes have consistently high rates of attendance with more employees joining every week.
In September, during which R U OK? day fell on 12 September, we promoted 5 Ways to Wellbeing. The program introduces five simple, effective and evidence-based ways to improve psychological and emotional health:
- Connect: Developing healthy social relationships increases feelings of happiness, security, belonging and self-worth.
- Be active: Being active is important for good health at all ages and life stages, both for body and mind.
- Learning: Learning provides enjoyment throughout life and improves knowledge, skills and ability to cope with stress.
- Be aware: Being aware of thoughts, feelings and surroundings increases the ability to keep calm, think clearly and cope with difficult situations.
- Help others: Being kind and helping others brings pleasure, social connection and trust, and ultimately boost happiness.
We also encouraged employees to download the HeadGear app, developed by researchers at Black Dog Institute, UNSW and University of Sydney in partnership with BeyondBlue. HeadGear provides a simple and engaging way to assess and monitor mental health, with a tailored 30-day mental health challenge to increase wellbeing and reduce risk of future mental health problems.
In addition to these workshops, classes and initiatives, DesignInc offers “Be@YourBest” days, which encourage staff to look after their mental health by taking time out for a massage, attending a yoga retreat or having a check-up with their GP or a psychologist. We also support those who are struggling with mental ill-health through adjusted hours or flexible working arrangements. For those who have required time off work, we develop return-to-work plans to ease the transition.
One in five Australians are affected by mental illness, yet many don’t seek help because of stigma. We encourage those affected by mental illness to reach out and to know that we are here to listen.
If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed or has something on their mind, unburdening the load can really help. Regardless of who you are or how you’re feeling, you can reach out for help to support services like Beyond Blue who offer a 24/7 immediate support helpline. Alternatively, click here for a list of other support channels.
Image source: 1010.org.au