What is Mental Health Month?
Each October in New South Wales, Mental Health Month is celebrated with a specific theme, with the aim of sharing resources, encouraging events and raising awareness of different aspects of our mental health. The World Health Organisation has listed mental health as a key component of overall health & wellbeing, and it’s not surprising when considering that mental health disorders will affect 46% of people aged 16 – 85 at least once in their lifetime. Mental health affects not just the individual, but their families, carers and the wider community.
Mental Health Month encourages “all of us to think about our mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether we may have a lived experience of mental illness or not. It also gives us the opportunity to understand the importance of good mental health in our everyday lives and encourages help seeking behaviours when needed”.
The theme for Mental Health Month 2021 is “Tune In”
Take time to tune in and be mindful of what’s happening to you, your community, your family, your workplace and importantly, to tune into the stigma that hangs over mental health issues.
Mental Health in the Workplace
According to BeyondBlue, 1 in 5 employees will have taken time off work in the last 12 months because they feel mentally unhealthy, anxious or stressed. While the vast majority of workplace leaders (81%) acknowledge their organisation has policies to support mental health, around 35% of employees don’t know about or how to access these resources. It has been shown that in a workplace considered mentally healthy, absenteeism due to mental health issues almost halves. It seems fitting that organisational leaders should give the same priority to employees mental health as they do with physical health and safety.
What can you do in the workplace?
Talk about it
In addition to these great tips, as a business leader I talk about mental health. Not just in October, but regularly with my team, just as I talk about other appropriate matters of health and wellbeing for all of us. Talking about it helps to remove any stigma about mental health and that it’s OK to ask for support if you need it.
People will tell you meditation isn’t for them. Many people have never tried it. On Mondays, we have mini meditations in place, to help people give it a go. The best outcomes result from practicing meditation over a period of time. Our hope is that by coming together in the workplace to do this we can help form lasting habits. A group Zoom is setup and we use a variety of meditation content (just check out Headspace, Calm, YouTube to name a few destinations).
Company meeting meditation
We have a company meeting each week. During this time everyone gets the chance to be reminded of how the wonderful people at Jomablue around the country are working to support each other. We start our company meetings with a 1 minute guided meditation with cameras and mics off. This gives the chance to tune in, be present, and check in on how we are feeling.
Our local state health department sponsors businesses up to 200 employees on a program for executives, managers and employees to build skills around having healthier mental states. Stress and reduced mental health can come from so many factors. Everyone is different. The training helps us all recognise the sources of stress, how to recognise it in ourselves and support others.
Team Exercise Challenge
This Oct we have signed up for One Foot Forward challenge to raise awareness and maybe even some money to help others via the work of the Black Dog Institute.
Engaging in Mental Health Month can be as little as or as much that works for you. Here are some ideas from Way Forward to get you started:
If you or someone you know needs help please call:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636