September 26, 2019

September 26, 2019 | Risk Pulse


How workplaces can save lives

Understanding where you fit within the context of tackling mental health is important. That is, workplaces are not counselling practices, and managers are not psychologists, so you should not attempt to encroach on areas outside your abilities. Your responsibility is to notice changes that affect a person’s work, speak to them and provide support if they are experiencing difficulties, and refer them to further help.


How workplaces can save lives

Understanding where you fit within the context of tackling mental health is important. That is, workplaces are not counselling practices, and managers are not psychologists, so you should not attempt to encroach on areas outside your abilities. Your responsibility is to notice changes that affect a person’s work, speak to them and provide support if they are experiencing difficulties, and refer them to further help.

Eliza Oakley, Mindful Employer Manager at SANE Australia, says, “Leaders need to be comfortable talking about mental illness in the workplace. That doesn’t mean diagnosing; we need them to buy into the idea that it’s time to start talking about mental health at work.

Reducing stigma

Stigma is reduced through conversation, awareness and acceptance and this can be demonstrated in many ways at work.

“It comes down to the leadership team and senior management of the organisation. They’re the most powerful influencers and shapers of workplace culture and they need to speak openly about mental health in the workplace,” says Nick Arvanitis, Head of Workforce Research and Development with Beyond Blue. When people speak about mental health, others are encouraged to do the same.

Sharing lived experiences

One of the most powerful methods of creating awareness of mental health in the workplace is to share experiences of current or past struggles. Of course, doing this is a personal decision for anyone who has been through mental health challenges. It can, however, have a positive and very strong effect on those around them.

“The best way to reduce stigma is to have people share their personal stories of depression and anxiety,” Arvanitis explains. “When people have contact with people who have experience with mental health challenges, then we reduce stigma. A key part of that is speaking openly about mental health, and perhaps inviting speakers to speak to workers about their experience and their positive recovery.”

Sharing lived experiences of mental health challenges is something that SANE Australia’s suicide prevention project manager, Sarah Coker, is passionate about. She believes that incorporating these lived experiences into the workplace can make a difference.

“Workplaces need to be places that are understanding and responsive to staff who are going through difficult times, whatever those might be, and open to having non-judgemental conversations and know where to send people if they haven’t already got help,” says Coker. “And if you have a supportive work environment, it’s going to make it more likely that people will feel comfortable to disclose.”

Her research, she says, has shown that talking is the one thing that can take pressure off people who are struggling.

 

SuperFriend acknowledgement
This article was provided by SuperFriend, a national mental health organisation that helps workplaces promote promote and support improved mental health and wellbeing for their employees.
www.superfriend.com.au

 

 

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