Mental health is becoming such a large part of our risk profiles in health and safety, and something that every organisation needs to help their employees deal with on a daily basis. The great part is, not everyone has to start from scratch when managing it well. I recently had a chat to Julie from Mentally Well Workplaces (MWW). We had a chat about the programs they deliver and what the future for mental health in the workplace might look like.
I think it is always important to reach out if you feel overwhelmed and I am always here to chat if you need.
Let’s crack into the chat with Julie.
Julie, tell us about all about your passion behind Mentally Well Workplaces.
Mentally Well Workplaces was born in December 2018. What came to our attention through training Mental Health First Aid two-day program was that the attendees were predominately leaders or managers. Most employees still fear consulting their leader or manager if they are experiencing difficulties. More often than not they will speak with a colleague at the same level. With this information we realised that the only way to combat this challenge was provide a way for all employees to have access to Mental Health Awareness training without taking them out of the workplace for two days and at a more cost-effective way. We are truly heartened with the uptake and to see organisations and individuals gaining value out of this program. Our Mission is to continue to strive to meet our goals by training 50 businesses to create a “Mentally Well Workplace” by the end of 2019.
Julie, one of the programs you have is the Mental Health Induction. Can you tell us a little about it? What would we expect if we attended?
The Mental Health Induction aims to heighten the awareness and education about the impact of mental illness in the workplace to one’s self, colleagues and careers.
Employees will learn how to identify, ask, listen, respond to and follow up with colleagues with a mental illness. Employees who undertake the induction are given the tools to help them contribute to a more productive and cohesive workplace, helping to improve the wellness and safety of employers, colleagues and most importantly self. Inductees will develop a deeper understanding of avenues for support, accountability, mental health policies, links to WHS and much more.
It's clear to see this is your passion Julie, tell us what you love about working in this space?
There’s a team of us at MWW, who are extremely passionate about making a positive difference to the wellbeing of every person. As we learn to thrive, we clear the pathway for others to do the same. We pride ourselves on being a democratic workplace.
Women in Safety is always here to share successes, wins and the tough times. What are some of your big wins in the mental health space to date?
We are very proud that two large national organisations and several government agencies that have taken on the Induction Program. It was a huge win to realise that these organisations saw just how valuable our evidence-based program is. Every person that we speak to about it believes it ‘just makes sense’ to have all employees educated in Mental Health and Wellbeing. The induction has been the first step; we are now being asked to deliver full prevention, intervention and sustaining programs.
Julie, we know not everyone can afford to reach out to an organisation at this stage, but we know we need to help people every day. What can everyone do in their workplace today to start making change now?
Having conversations with your peers is a great way to start making changes to every person’s wellbeing. Looking for the positive things in the organisation that are already there that help you feel connected, calm and at ease; and promote these to your other work colleagues. Seek support from management to start having Wellbeing as a focus in the organisation, there will be one there: look for the manager whose staff respect and admire them and who will champion the cause.
Thank you so much for giving us an insight into MWW today. Before we head off, where do you see mental health in the workplace in 5 years? Better/worse/“fixed”?
In 5 years, we hope that Mental Health training is mandatory for all employees, in the same way physical health training is. We have recently lobbied for this to the government for this to occur and will continue to advocate for positive change until it occurs.
We all need to be proactive in building workplaces that foster positive mental wellbeing for change to occur. The good news in that there is a growing awareness of mindfulness and mental wellness, and we are seeing companies go further into managing workplace mental health and employees’ mental wellbeing.
Another trend that is evolving from companies promoting workplace wellbeing are changes in workspace design, which can also have a positive impact on workplace wellness. With all this occurring we hope that in 5 years the stigma has been abolished and that it is the norm to give all employees the incentives, tools, strategies and support to adopt and maintain healthy behaviours both in and out of the office.
To connect with Julie and the team head to www.mentallywellworkplaces.com.au/
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Mental Health Conversations Podcast discusses a range of topics focused on the modern work environment, career guidance & mental health in Australia