Now more than ever, COVID-19 and lockdowns are taking a devastating toll on the mental health of our communities. This year, along with the health impacts of COVID-19, the pandemic has led to; self and social isolation, disconnection from family and friends, quarantine and lockdowns on travelling resulting in more people than ever experiencing feelings of helplessness, isolation, anxiety and depression.
The demand for health support services has increased exponentially as a result. The latest figures about emergency department visits for self-harm and suicidal ideation is up 31% for children and teenagers compared with last year.
However, the tireless work organisations and government bodies are providing to tackle these challenges are visible and have had a profound impact.
Black Dog Institute is no exception.
In a co-hosted webinar with Black Dog Institute on “Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace”, our CEO Shane Duffy and the Corporate Partnerships Manager Anna Hamilton, sat down to discuss mental health and wellness in the workplace. They discussed strategies on protecting mental health, working remotely and maintaining employee wellbeing, and the impactful initiatives and solutions Black Dog Institute is developing to improve the lives of people with mental illness.
Our partnership – Employment Innovations and Black Dog Institute
Our partnership with Black Dog Institute resonates deeply with our company values and aligns with our purpose in making employment easier – including for those with mental health challenges.
Many of us spend a huge portion of our lives at work, and at Employment Innovations, we feel that it should be a place where positive change through increased awareness and education can have a profound impact within our communities.
By extending our support to the Black Dog Institute, we strive to ensure that more employers (and their employees) across Australia have access to resources to ensure a psychologically safe workplace – to educate, give support and take action. Additionally, these actions will have a multiplier effect outside of the workplace.
Mental Health is Priority
At Employment Innovations, our HR team has experience in managing situations where employee mental health issues impact work, performance and wellbeing – and as a result, makes employment more challenging.
Additionally, we are mindful that for many of our clients (those running the business, or the business owner) often struggle themselves and may not have the support and resources around them to help. There is a huge personal and financial cost in failing to manage mental health challenges proactively.
With over 1,000 clients across Australia, our partnership plays a vital role in providing resources to businesses and their employees to hopefully tackle some of the alarming statistics around mental health in Australia.
Strategies for Protecting your Mental Health
Develop a Flexible Working Policy
Developing a flexible working policy that enables experimentation and learning is a crucial step in protecting mental and physical health within your workplace. By talking openly about mental health risks as part of your WH&S policy, implementing controls as simple as regular 1:1s with meaningful check-ins, and greater flexibility of working at times that suit you (work your way), particularly when people are juggling home schooling are some of the ways to maximise the effectiveness and inclusiveness of a flexible remote working environment.
At Employment Innovations, we have championed remote work principles which can be tailored to each business with the aim of improving productivity and culture, compensating for non-verbal communication, and encouraging inclusiveness for those working outside the workspace. We have found that working remotely in this way has improved inclusiveness for those who work outside our Sydney head office.
Set up a Routine and Structure for your Workday
It’s essential to create boundaries between ‘work time’ and ‘home time’ – which includes a regular start and finish time, a structure to your work tasks, regular breaks and scheduling in exercise. This will help you maintain a strong boundary between work and home life, minimise the possibility of work intruding into your family time, and help you switch off from work at the end of the day. At Employment Innovations, we encourage our employees to get outside and dial into our daily huddles and share pictures.
If you’re not stuck in a lockdown, try to get outside at least once a day. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, and sunshine. If you are in isolation, go out to your garden or walk up and down your driveway or go out onto your balcony and enjoy the fresh air.
Stay connected with co-workers and your manager by scheduling regular virtual or phone meetings. By being proactive in organising meetings and social connections, we are able to maintain positive relationships and not miss out on the spontaneous conversations or stories which happen at the office. Staying connected with others will help reduce stress levels, feel less isolated, and stay productive.
Try a digital detox in the evenings
Technology makes it easier to stay connected 24-7, but the downside is that it can make it difficult to switch off, and separate work and home life. Try a digital detox to help you switch off from work, so you can spend quality time with your family, or do the things you want to do.
One Foot Forward
One Foot Forward is the perfect way to keep your office energised, moving, and connected, while raising money for mental health research.
Walk (or run!) 20, 40, 60, 100 or 277 kilometres during Mental Health Month in October. Why 277kms? Because 277 people die from suicide every month in Australia.
You can achieve this goal as a team or as an individual.
By walking during Mental Health Month, your team will be joining a community of incredible people walking in solidarity for Australians impacted by mental illness and suicide.
Under the Radar
We are proud to be supporting Black Dog Institute as they launch the Under the Radar study to improve suicide prevention services for men in Australia, and you can be a part of designing the solution.
Under the Radar aims to improve the support available for men experiencing thoughts of ending their life and develop a service that is accessible and safe for those who are not receiving professional help or understand what they’re going through.
We want to show our support so they can hear from as many people as possible. The first phase of the study involves a 30-minute anonymous survey online.
If you’re looking for assistance to combat worry, try these helpful apps and online resources;
- Smiling Mind
- THIS WAY UP
- Managing financial stress during lockdown
- Head Gear App – 30 day mental fitness challenge
About Employment Innovations
Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.
The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.