Are your employees financially stressed after returning to work?

Published in Human Resources Director 17th January 2020

AccessEAP, Clinical Director, Marcela Slepica said returning to work after the holiday period brings a dose of reality. Someone who has spent more than they planned can feel out of control and anxious that they haven’t managed their funds well.

“By creating a safe and confidential environment where employees will feel more comfortable talking about their issues, they may be more open to seeking financial coaching support.”

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Workplaces need proactive approach to mental health

Published in MyBusiness 9th January 2020

In light of the release of the draft report, CEO of AccessEAP Sally Kirkright highlights the important role that managers play in the support of their employees, stating that businesses “must take a stance against mental health”.

“While diseases and physical conditions tend to affect older generations, mental ill health inhibits our working lives, limiting the ability to secure and retain employment,” Ms Kirkright said.

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Combatting Feelings of Festive Isolation

For many, Christmas is a joyous time, full of gift-giving and parties with friends and family. Unfortunately, for people who rely on work for social connection, the season can be far from merry.

More than 2 million Australians feel socially isolated during the festive period[1]. While loneliness isn’t a mental health problem, it can contribute to mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, which can be a significant risk factor to those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. This issue can be exacerbated by a lack of workplace relationships and the sense of purpose our jobs give us. Supportive social relationships and a sense of control which one feels at work can help make people more resilient.

The holidays can be an isolating time that some may even dread for fear of being alone. AccessEAP can provide out of hours support for employees, so it’s important for employers and managers to remind teams of this resource over the holidays.

The potential combination of stressful Christmas activities and isolation can be reduced by pausing, making plans, being mindful, and taking time to relax. The past few months have been particularly challenging for many Australian families with losses of life, animals and property due to devastating bushfires. More recently the tragic New Zealand volcano incident will leave many families grieving instead of sharing the holidays together. For these people, grief, loss and feelings of isolation will be intense and may require long term support.

Below is advice on how to take care of yourself over the festive season.

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Workplaces Need to Stand Up to Australian Mental Health Crisis

A crisis in the mental health of Australia is costing the economy between $43bn to $51bn per year, according to a draft paper by the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission.

The Mental Health, Draft Report [1] revealed that beyond this alarming statistic, an approximate $130bn additional cost is created by diminished health and reduced life expectancy for the one in five Australians living with psychological conditions.

The draft highlights the complexities around defining a mentally healthy workplace but acknowledges the recognised risk factors and stressors that can impact mental health in the workplace. The role of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and the importance of investing in research and evaluating outcomes were also identified.

Workplaces must take a stance against mental ill-health. While diseases and physical conditions tend to affect older generations, mental ill-health inhibits our working lives, limiting the ability to secure and retain employment.

There are four main job-related factors that exacerbate psychological conditions, including: job demand and control, caused by a lack of control over highly cognitively and/or emotionally demanding jobs; a perceived imbalance between effort and rewards; job insecurity and exposure to trauma.

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How to look after employees over the festive season

Published in Human Resources Director 18th December 2019

The festive season can be a joyous time, full of gift giving and parties with friends and family.

However, for many people who rely on work for social connection, the season can be far from merry.

Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director, AccessEAP, said that while loneliness isn’t a mental health problem, it can contribute to mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, which can be a significant risk factor to those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

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Support for customers impacted by the White Island volcano eruption

As you may be aware on Monday the 9th of December there was a volcanic eruption on White Island, New Zealand. Our thoughts are with those who are impacted, as always we are here to support your people. Following a traumatic event, it is common to experience a range of intense emotions. It’s important to be aware that everyone responds differently and everyone’s needs will be different, initially and over time. 

Organisations play a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting their employees and their families in the immediate aftermath and moving forward. Being prepared to provide initial and long term support for people will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience.

To support those that may have been affected by the event we have included documents for individual strategies (download pdf here) and tips as well as information for managers and leaders (download pdf here).

Should your managers need additional support as they support your employees during this time, please call the Manager Support Hotline. To arrange the Manager Support call, an appointment or onsite support please contact us on 1800 818 728 or in New Zealand 0800 327 669.

Our support and commitment are unwavering through White Ribbon changes

With the recent closure and now new ownership of White Ribbon Australia announced, I wanted to reassure our customers that nothing has changed in terms of the support and training we provide. However, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on what the White Ribbon name has come to mean for domestic violence.

It’s important to note that White Ribbon (WR) started with men taking up the challenge to do something about men’s violence against women and has continued to specifically engage men in this cause. WR explores the underlying reasons that violence against women continues to be a major social and economic issue in Australia and around the world.

This movement has a history dating back to 1981 but came into being in response to the Dec 1989 Montreal Massacre of 14 female students. WR was founded and a white ribbon chosen to represent peace as well as being a neutral colour men would be comfortable wearing. In 1992, the movement was brought to Australia by the Men Against Sexual Assualt (MASA) group. This incredibly powerful history of men and women working together to eliminate men’s violence against women must continue without pause. As leaders, we are in a position to ensure this happens.

At AccessEAP we are undergoing the accreditation process and will continue the process as we recognise the important work of the international White Ribbon movement. Regardless of what the new WR will look like violence against women is a pressing and prevalent issue within our society and our commitment to continue with the accreditation process stands firm. 

As a White Ribbon approved training provider 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 addressing and raising awareness of such an important issue. 

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How to improve mental health in workforces

Published in Human Resources Director 6th December 2019.

Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP, said workplaces must take a stance against mental ill-health.

“Businesses need to be mindful of the impact they have on employees’ mental wellbeing through the job itself, workplace culture and organisational support including recognition, stigma and the physical environment,” added Kirkright.

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Prevent burnout

Published in INTHEBLACK 1st December 2019.

Marcela Slepica, director of clinical services at AccessEAP, says burnout is now occurring in a broader range of sectors. “There has always been burnout in certain industries, such as the caring professions or first responders – police or emergency medics – but I now see it moving into other industries, including professional services.”

Slepica says workload, constant change and workers feeling misunderstood by senior managers are common complaints.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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indig_flags.jpg

AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away
.

indig_flags.jpg

AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away.