Is my workplace a mental-health friendly place to work?

Is my workplace a mental-health friendly place to work?

In this new workplace reality where we are constantly connected to a smart device, working in a  never-sleeping global economy, people are valuing workplaces that create safe spaces and support their mental health more than ever. Whether you’re seeking a new job, or want to know how your current organisation measures up, here are a few key signs that your work is doing things right. 

 

Good morale

Are you and your colleagues happy to come to work?

Do you feel your contribution is valued? 

Do you feel supported to do your job?

 

If you answered yes, then your workplace has good morale and a positive culture. This is an important contributor as low morale within a team or department can devolve into a vicious cycle of negativity and poor performance.

 

Attitude to overtime

Is overtime a standard expectation, or an unusual request?

Are the deadlines and amount of work delegated to you reasonable and achievable?

Do you find yourself thinking about work a lot in your downtime?

 

Working too much has real implications for your health and your personal life. At work it impacts productivity, workplace safety and your physical health. Yet, some of the biggest issues happen at home. A study by Cornell University shows that approximately 10% of employees who work 50 to 60 hours per week report severe work-family conflicts. The divorce rate also increases as weekly hours increase. 

 

A mentally healthy workplace does not encourage or reward excess overtime. During busy periods some people may need to work more than a 38-hour week, but this workplace would balance this with offers of flex-time, flexible working arrangements or time-in-lieu. 

 

Staff turnover

How long have you been working for your company?

Do people usually stay in their jobs or with the company for an extended period of time?

 

If people tend to stay with an organisation then it’s an indicator that they feel valued and supported. They may also feel that the workplace understands their needs, goals and aspirations, and that these are achievable. These are all important ingredients in a mentally healthy workplace. 

 

Promote wellbeing

Does your organisation have policies, procedures and services that promote mental wellness and life balance?

Do leadership talk about mental health?

Do team members feel comfortable discussing their mental health with their managers?

 

Many organisations will offer some sort of Employee Assistance Program so staff members in need have access to a counselling service. But many businesses are taking this even further with new initiatives; yoga or meditation classes, flexible working hours, remote work and providing healthy food and snacks in the office. 

Some of Australia’s largest employers like Optus and the Department of Education and Training are upskilling staff, particularly managers, as Mental Health First Aiders and putting into place policies,  procedures and programs to support their role in the workplace. Often staff members will confide in their managers or colleagues, and this course empowers them with tools to support colleagues in a safe manner.

 

Assessing whether you work in a mentally healthy workplace is only part of the challenge. Leaders and team members all contribute to creating a safe, mentally healthy environment, and in the future we will unpack how you can help in your role and the resources available to you. 

Suicide & Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide & Suicidal Thoughts

In Australia 1 out of 5 adults experience some form of mental illness, with many not receiving professional assistance. Around 2,800 Australians die from suicide each year, and for every one of those, up to 20 people attempt suicide. However, with intervention, support from family and friends, effective treatment and time, many people who have had suicidal thoughts, or attempted suicides can have long, fulfilling and productive lives. 

Accredited Mental Health First Aiders can play a part to provide early intervention, referrals to relevant professionals, ongoing support and working together to ensure someone’s safety during a crisis.

People feel suicidal because the distress caused by the illness can be so great they may feel an overwhelming desire to end their life. Suicide can also be related to distressing life events. People with Depression, Psychosis and drugs and alcohol problems are particularly vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and behaviours. 

The majority of people who are suicidal give warning signs about their intentions, and when having a mental health conversation with someone these are things to look out for:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • self-harm
  • expressions of hopelessness or helplessness
  • an overwhelming sense of shame or guilt
  • a dramatic change in personality or appearance, or irrational or bizarre behaviour
  • changed eating or sleeping habits
  • a severe drop in school or work performance
  • a lack of interest in the future
  • giving away possessions and putting their affairs in order.
  • dramatic changes in mood

Many people speak of their intention to commit suicide or write about it. For adolescents on social media posting information about suicide, saying goodbye and deleting accounts can also be a sign. 

It is important that if you think that someone might be having suicidal thoughts that you ask them directly. Listen non-judgmentally, find out more from the person so you can assess whether there is an immediate safety issue. If there is, stay with the person, get appropriate help, and look at creating a safety plan.

It is vital that if you are having these discussions, and providing support to someone who is suicidal, that you take care of yourself and practice some form of self-care.

Attending a mental health first aid course takes you through the process of identifying signs of suicidal thoughts, assessing the risk to the individual, and having conversations about suicide. It gives you information about the services that you can recommend, and how you can provide ongoing support. 

Contact us to book into our upcoming courses. 

If you or someone you know are experiencing a suicidal crisis, please contact

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Suicide call back service – 1300 659 467

NSW Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511

References:

Standard Mental First Aid Manual 2019

Sane https://www.sane.org/information-stories/facts-and-guides/suicidal-behaviour

Safety Plans

Safety Plans

Safety plans – what they are, who can make one and why creating a safety plan for someone who is suicidal is important. 

A safety plan is for people to use when they are feeling unsafe or suicidal – a plan to refer to and remind themselves of reasons to live, family and friends they can talk to, ideas of activities to do when they’re alone to aid when they are vulnerable. This should be a collaborative process between the person, and a mental health first aider or mental health professional. 

Before making a plan find out:

  • Check if the person already has a safety plan, or has had one in the past.
  • Find out who has helped them in the past. 
  • Find out what support they want from you. 

The plan should:

  • Be something to refer to, and remind the person what they have to live for.
  • Focus on things to do when they are feeling suicidal.
  • Be clear, outlining exactly what will be done, who will be doing it, and at what stage these actions should be put into place
  • Be for a length of time that will be easier for the suicidal person to cope with, so that they can feel able to fulfill the agreement and so it can be reviewed and revised. 
  • Include contact details that the person agrees they will call if they are feeling suicidal. eg. GP, a mental health professional, a suicide helpline or 24/7 crisis line, and family and friends who will help in a crisis. 

Safety plans can be really detailed, or they can be simple, this will depend on the person requiring a safety plan.

There are great apps that can be downloaded onto your smart-phone. This way people can always have their safety plan handy.

We recommend Beyond Blue’s Beyond Now app or the 

ReMinder app from Suicide Call Back Service.

Attend a Mental Health for the Suicidal Person course to learn more about safety planning and how to support someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts.

If you or someone you know are experiencing a suicidal crisis, please contact

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Suicide call back service – 1300 659 467

NSW Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511

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