We have always been huge advocates for mental health here at Healthworks and this year will arguably go down as one of the most challenging years in recent history. 2020 will forever be the year that has challenged us in profound ways and unfortunately for many of us, whether it’s through the repetitiveness of lockdown, financial pressures, unemployment, job insecurity, personal illness, relationship strain, altered family dynamics, existing or new mental illness or the duration of the pandemic and the uncertainty of the future – we are not out of the woods yet.
Research tells us that at any point in time, one in five working age people will be suffering from a mental health condition and 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health or substance-use disorder in their lifetime. In addition, recent research has also confirmed a further decline in the Mental Health of the Australian population and as a result, it is anticipated that there will be a further increase in mental health problems over the next 6 months to 2 years.
Mental Health is often described as a continuum where a diagnosed mental illness is at one end and mental wellbeing (or thriving) sits at the other. In between are the normal fluctuations, mental health problems and everyday stresses that we all experience. At Healthworks, our ‘Healthy Minds’ philosophy is simple… our first duty is always to help those who are suffering from poor mental health. So, when we consider the dynamic continuum of mental health, we always look to commence our programs at the ‘poor mental health’ end and then move to focus on initiatives that are aimed at promoting mental wellbeing.
We strongly believe that the biggest impact we can have in the workplace is to implement mental health & wellbeing initiatives that focus on mitigating the impact of mental illness on people that are already unwell. This is done through providing education about the signs and symptoms of mental illness; strategies to offer support and reduce the stigma around mental health, and through promoting resources to assist individuals who are suffering to seek help.
Over the past few months, we have worked hard to make sure that our own team members who are struggling are well supported. We have run a series of internal education sessions to raise awareness and upskill our team so they can look out for each other and for others in their own community. We believe that the skill of having a ‘difficult’ conversation is valuable in every aspect of our lives, not just the workplace.
Given that we are two thirds of the way through 2020, (not to mention the plethora of challenges that have been thrown our way this year), many of us are feeling our resources are depleted and our personal resilience tank is running low. So as we approach R U OK? Day and World Mental Health Day, we wanted to shift our focus to some of the other facets that contribute to our mental wellbeing. To do this we have created the five week R U OK? Challenge, which we would love to invite you to join us on. The challenge focuses on a series of key themes which all have a strong evidence base to improve an individuals mental health. These themes are:
Each week will be accompanied by an overview of the supporting evidence of the theme and a selection of simple activities which will ensure we ‘walk the talk’ together…even if we are apart.