New podcast: suicide awareness in response to VIC legislation

Recent news on workplace manslaughter laws, introduced to Victorian state government earlier this month, raise difficult questions regarding the responsibilities and requirements of employers to proactively support mental health and safety in workplaces.

As reported in The Age “the laws will cover deaths caused by mental injuries, including trauma from bullying or other forms of abuse, sustained on the job as well as accidents and illnesses caused by unsafe workplaces. The new legislation will apply to all employers in public and private companies whose negligence resulted in a death of an employee, be that by providing a dangerous workplace or failing to provide appropriate mental support."

At AccessEAP, our customers already demonstrate a commitment to safeguard the mental health and wellbeing of their people. However, we believe this current proposed amendment to legislation will further define the responsibilities of employers in this area. We are developing resources to start a conversation with and between our customers to help understand the potential impact of the legislation and proactive approaches to implement in the workplace.

The first of these resources is now available in the form of a podcast on Suicide Awareness and Psychological Safety in the Workplace.

Continue reading

Support for parents of teens

Teenage years are characterised by rapid learning, risk-taking, building relationships and establishing a sense of self. Parents are often bombarded with news articles on the very real dangers of alcohol-fuelled accidents and violence, party drug experimentation and risky behaviours. Particularly at this time as teenagers come to the end of their schooling and participate in “schoolies” and Summer music festivals, parents worry about risky behaviours becoming dangerous.

As parents, it is important to keep the communication open, to talk through choices and consequences, to show understanding about risk-taking and partying. We want our kids to make choices, to not be afraid to say “no” and to call us, as parents, if they are in trouble or scared. It is important to talk to them about looking out for each other, not to leave their friends alone or with strangers.  

This stage of development is intense for our teens as they experience significant brain and hormonal changes whilst navigating external demands and influences from peers, teachers, parents, carers and of course, ever-present and unforgiving social media. We are witnessing an exponential increase in mental health issues among teens. So how can we support teens to proactively manage stress through these tumultuous times?

Good sleep

Poor sleep often accompanies stressful times. Teenagers experiencing stress might lie awake worrying at night and be too tired to function well the next day. This can set up a poor sleep pattern. The Sleep Health Foundation recommends these tips to help your child establish healthy sleeping patterns: avoid screen time an hour before bed and encourage reading or listening to relaxing music instead to help wind down; support your teen to establish and stick to a routine around bed and wake-up times; encourage them to get around 7.5 hours of sleep per night, which is the optimum amount of time for teenagers. Read more here.

Continue reading

It’s Time to Address Domestic Violence in the Workplace

According to research, 2.2 million Australians have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a partner, whilst 3.6 million have experienced emotional abuse from a partner[1]. As a national welfare issue, domestic and family violence not only affects the victim in their personal lives but in their professional life too.

Employers have an important role to play and need to take the issue seriously, the cost of domestic violence to the Australian workplace could rise to $9.9 billion annually by 2021/2[2]. AccessEAP acknowledges the role employers and work play in supporting women dealing with this issue. Domestic violence has very real impacts on employees and the workplace. For the victim, health and economic costs can increase and mental health can deteriorate. For organisations, this can lead to lower productivity, efficiency, staff retention rates and motivation, as well as higher absenteeism.

What’s more, some of these employees’ suffering doesn’t end once they leave the house. Victims of abuse can still be subject to unbelievable pressures when they reach the office, such as email and phone harassment, with partners trying to force them to resign or get fired. In extreme cases, they may even be targeted by their abuser at their place of work. This type of behaviour then affects the workforce as a whole, with staff exposed to the abuse in person.

Many organisations recognise it is important and relevant to have a Domestic Violence policy in place to support employees and to provide training to managers and their staff about how to respond and how to offer support. Victims should always feel that there is someone they can confidentially talk to in the workplace, yet only 20 per cent of employees feel comfortable helping a colleague who is experiencing domestic abuse[3]. Work can often become a sanctuary away from abuse and as an employer, it’s important to encourage a working environment that is safe for employees. By creating a non-judgmental space where victims feel confident to talk about their experiences, it can help raise awareness and make sure that someone is getting the help they deserve.

AccessEAP is committed to creating safe workplaces and encouraging workplace wellbeing to the forefront. We can assist organisations in developing domestic violence policies with training based on three elements; Recognise, Respond, Refer.

Continue reading

DV must be better addressed in the workplace

Published in Wellness Daily 15th November 2019.

AccessEAP clinical director Marcela Slepica said employers and work play a significant role in supporting women dealing with this issue.

“Domestic violence has very real impacts on employees and the workplace. For the victim, health and economic costs can increase and mental health can deteriorate. For organisations, this can lead to lower productivity, efficiency, staff retention rates and motivation, as well as higher absenteeism,” she said.

Support through the bushfire crisis

We are reaching out to our customers both impacted and threatened by the current, devastating bushfires in NSW, QLD, VIC and WA. We know this will affect everyone differently, given the magnitude of these bushfires, it is likely that people in your organisations will be impacted in some way. Some employees may lose homes, animals and pets, some employees may be concerned for family and friends, some may be working in the area fighting fires and supporting those impacted. Our thoughts are with all emergency personnel who may well be exhausted but remain committed.

We would like to remind our customers that we are here to provide immediate phone support to any employees or managers who have questions or need support.

At this present time we believe most organisations will be focusing on the immediate situation and needs. Survival and protection will be the main concern. We are able to assist with onsite support when the risks and threats have been contained. The following information may also be of assistance:

For individuals, see our tips and strategies (download pdf here).

As a manager, there are a few things you can do to support your employees (download pdf here):

Continue reading

How can employers create a sense of purpose?

Published in Human Resources Director NZ 8th November 2019.

A sense of purpose can significantly improve psychological wellbeing, said Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director, AccessEAP.

Poor mental health and a lack of purpose in work can negatively impact employees and could make them feel worse.

White Ribbon Australia closes but the important work continues

Although White Ribbon Australia have made the very difficult decision to close their doors, they have advised the following, ‘For all those who are already planning for White Ribbon Day, we encourage you to continue with those plans alongside the international White Ribbon movement. Continue to raise your voice.’ 

With White Ribbon Day at the end of November and many organisations in the midst of White Ribbon Accreditation, there is a level of uncertainty with how to proceed. Here at AccessEAP, we are currently going through the accreditation process ourselves. We will continue with our accreditation and our commitment to the process as we recognise the important work that White Ribbon was trying to accomplish. Violence against women is a pressing and prevalent issue within our society and our commitment to continue with the accreditation process stands firm. 

We are a White Ribbon approved training provider and we will continue to provide Domestic and Family Violence Awareness Training. We have received positive feedback from organisations that we have supported in achieving their accreditation and raising awareness on this matter. For organisations that are considering the accreditation process or are in the process of doing so, AccessEAP encourages all organisations to continue with their commitment in addressing and raising awareness of such an important issue. 

At AccessEAP we are sensitive to the complexities that surround Domestic and Family Violence, and our aim is to continue to support you via training and organisational consultancy. At AccessEAP our mission is to create thriving workplaces and hope that you will join us in supporting increased awareness and education involving violence against women. 

If you or your organisation needs further advice please contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.

Leaders to Challenge Stigma of Mental Health

October 10th Marks World Mental Health Day

Employees with mental health issues report that that they are unlikely to tell their managers about their issues for fear of being judged. There is still a stigma around mental health is some workplaces. This fear and not speaking out creates more stress for employees and possibly impacts on absenteeism and presenteeism. While many companies are making an effort to move mental health and wellbeing to the top of the agenda, a lack of time and resources are often used as excuses for not following through.

The 10th October is World Mental Health Day and encourages us to unite in efforts to improve the mental health of people around the word and challenge the misconceptions about those experiencing mental illness.

According to research, 45% of Australians have experienced mental health issues in their lifetime[1], and while the workplace is not the main reason for people developing a mental health issue, it is definitely a contributing factor. Long hours, stressful workloads, job insecurity and lack of engagement are sometimes normalised within companies, yet they affect the mental wellbeing of employees and can lead to issues such as anxiety or depression.

“As a manager, you are in a unique position to promote positive mental health at work, explains Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director here at AccessEAP. “Given the prevalence of mental health issues in Australia, it is likely that at any given time someone in your team will either be experiencing symptoms or will be vulnerable to developing symptoms.

“There are so many ways in which you can actively challenge stigma and help a person in your team remain connected, stay productive and feel valued at work, whilst they experience mental health concerns. One simple action that organisations can take is to nominate a mental health or wellbeing ambassador, someone within the team who can have peer-to-peer conversations with colleagues about mental health issues and encourage them to seek help.”

Continue reading

This simple life change will make you more productive at work

Published in Lifestyle 9th August, 2019.

“We’ve become an ‘always-on’ society and while it may seem like a win for businesses, what they gain in hours is lost in efficiency,” says Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director at AccessEAP.

“Keeping our phones and laptops within arm’s reach at all times to work at any given time has a significant impact on our mental and physical health. In this fast-paced environment, something has to give, and for many it’s sleep. We are in a dangerous cycle of not getting all of the work done because we’re sleep deprived, and not sleeping because we’re not getting all of the work done,” Marcela tells.

Read More

Ask "R U OK?" on September 12th

Published in Safety Solutions 3rd September, 2019.

Ahead of R U OK? Day on 12 September, we at AccessEAP are advising workplaces to focus on mental health issues, to normalise and have meaningful conversations to try to identify, help and avoid potential incidences of suicide. And while the day marks the starting point of communication within the workplace, it’s imperative to consider that a long-term commitment to suicide prevention is vital and should be instilled within every workplace.

Read More

It's Here! Women's Health Week 2019

Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week is a week dedicated to all women across Australia to make good health a priority. The two biggest barriers for women not maintaining a healthy lifestyle is ‘lack of time’ and ‘health not being a priority’. Women’s Health Week is the time to do something for your health and start making positive changes that can last a lifetime! Click the below calendar for the more information about the daily activities.

With so many competing demands and expectations, the struggle to keep up with both work and home commitments can be extremely stressful. When stress persists to a point that a person feels they aren’t coping, it can affect the functioning of their day-to-day life as well as their overall wellbeing. The stressors of too much ‘juggling’ together with trying to do things well and be ‘good’ at everything is impacting on women and their ability to sleep, think clearly and make decisions.

For more information about Women's Health and Wellbeing contact your Relationship Manager who can go through our Women's Wellbeing Training and Webinar options.

 

R U OK? Day: How can HR prepare?

Published in Human Resources Director 22nd August, 2019.

Over the course of an adult’s life, they will spend up to 4,821 days at work.

This creates an opportunity for managers and HR leaders to start a dialogue with their staff, according to Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director at AccessEAP.

Employees may be struggling to cope and employers can play a role in creating an environment of acceptance and to normalise asking for help. “Managers can ensure they are providing helpful information and the support structures which employees may need.”

Read More

The key to being more productive at work? Sleep on it

Businesses dedicate significant funds to initiatives that drive employee performance, but one basic, yet crucial element may be overlooked, warn leading workplace psychologists. A study has shown that 39.8 per cent of Australians [1] are not getting enough sleep and that sleep deprivation is equating to productivity losses of $17.9 billion.

“We’ve become an ‘always-on’ society and while it may seem like a win for businesses, what they gain in hours is lost inefficiency,” says Marcela Slepica, our Clinical Director at AccessEAP.

“Keeping our phones and laptops within arm’s reach at all times to work at any given time has a significant impact on our mental and physical health. In this fast-paced environment, something has to give, and for many it’s sleep. We are in a dangerous cycle of not getting all of the work done because we’re sleep-deprived, and not sleeping because we’re not getting all of the work done,” Marcela continues.

Lack of sleep negatively affects our ability to think clearly, learn, concentrate and retain important information, which affects efficiency in the workplace. In a recent study, employees who reported ‘almost always’ feeling tired during the day had 4.4 times more productivity loss than those who reported ‘almost never’ feeling tired [2].

Insufficient sleep also impacts our mood and emotional wellbeing. Whilst extreme lack of sleep can induce serious psychological effects such as paranoia and memory loss, more subtle consequences such as anger and impatience can also prove challenging in a professional environment. Teamwork and cooperation play an essential role in business success, so when short tempers flare, relationships between colleagues become strained. 84% of people feel more irritable as a result of poor sleep [3], and with a volatile work atmosphere, staff members can become disengaged and negative, which contribute to poor team culture and low morale.

Continue reading

Support Act’s Wellbeing Helpline marks first anniversary

Published in The Music Network 6th August, 2019.

Support Act Ltd’s Wellbeing Helpline celebrates its first year of operation – and with some encouraging statistics. The free, confidential phone counselling service has been used by 150 artists, road crew and music workers from all genres to talk about any aspect of their mental health or wellbeing.

“We are very happy with the take up rate, and the feedback from service users has been extremely positive,” said Clive Miller, Sydney-based CEO of Support Act. “Having a dedicated helpline that is staffed by friendly, qualified clinicians who understand the challenges of working in the music industry can be an enormous help to someone who is struggling with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction, suicidal feelings; or issues which can be mental health related such as loneliness, relationship breakdown, financial worries, illness and workplace conflict.”

The Helpline is implemented by AccessEAP.

Read More

Defusing challenging behaviours in the education industry

Published in the Education Review 1st August, 2019.

Educators play a vital role in the community and we collectively need to support them so they can do their job. Learning the skills to respond to emotionally charged situations is crucial for today’s teachers. To tackle this, AccessEAP has designed training programs for frontline employees who may face situations where they could potentially be at risk of physical or psychological harm, to learn skills to know how to respond. 

Read More

Our Continued Support of the H.O.P.E. Program

H.O.P.E. continues to be the main recipient of our charitable funding for vulnerable families and children. At AccessEAP we are very proud of the donation of more than $500,000 for HOPE and programs to support vulnerable families, which was announced last month. Our contribution has been able to grow substantially each year and AccessEAP would like to recognise the support of our customers in making this donation. Through partnering with AccessEAP, you not only support your employees’ wellbeing but you also directly contribute to our chosen welfare programs in Australia.

  

We are pleased and proud to report that over the past 12 months the H.O.P.E. Program continued to exceed targets and these are very special targets because they are about helping more mums and bubs. 

  

 

Continue reading

Embracing emotion is key to leading a healthy workplace

Published in the Australian Design Review 27th June, 2019.

“Emotions and vulnerability are part of who we are and that doesn’t just go away when we enter the workplace,” explains Marcela Slepica, clinical director, Access EAP. “Opening up to colleagues and letting them know when I was feeling vulnerable, allowed me to make real connections, gain support and feel better sooner. Leaders should show compassion and support workers to do the same, simply put, leaders need to lead by example.”

Read More

Good Behaviour Bonds - supporting our teachers

Marcela Slepica, Director of Clinical Services at AccessEAP, said that over the past five years there has been a 36% increase in the number of teachers seeking support from their counsellors.

“There are many more pressures on today’s teachers, including increasingly demanding or aggressive parents and escalating levels of classroom violence,” Slepica said. “This behaviour is unacceptable and there are severe impacts for teachers’ wellbeing when they are unsupported."

 

Click here for the excerpt from Issue 2, Vol 49 of the Independent Education, the professional journal of the Independent Education Union of Australia.

Pet-friendly offices: What you need to know

Published in Human Resources Director 19th June, 2019.

According to Marcela Slepica Director, Clinical Services at AccessEAP, “multiple studies have shown the mental, social, and physiological health benefits of owning or interacting with an animal, which causes the body to release ‘happy hormones’ serotonin and dopamine that help combat stress, depression and anxiety”.

Read More

How to boost your workplace creativity

Published in Human Resources Director  8th May, 2019.

“Encouraging creativity has a number of beneficial effects on employees that can drive positive change in workplaces, if done well.” Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director, AccessEAP, comments on scribbling as just one way that creativity can help boost workplace performance.

Read More