We’re well and truly into Mental Health Awareness Month, and continuing the fantastic conversations from R U OK? Day. It’s easy to focus on one day as it focuses our attention. It can be less easy when we try and keep the conversation going over a month, as the day to day demands on our attention start to take up more of our minds.
This week we’d like to invite all of us to take a moment to rebuild and reinvest in our mental health and wellbeing.
As our personal circumstances continue to evolve through the pandemic, we’ve become accustomed to doing things in certain ways. These coping behaviours have served us well. Will they continue to be the best way to support our mental health and wellbeing as we move into a future where movement, border and travel restrictions no longer impact us? How can we take the best of our coping behaviours to grow into our future? What are the things you would like to see your people and teams carry with them in the future?
We've created new Tips and Tools on Supporting yourself and others and Keeping Mentally Healthy. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.
We need to keep the conversation about Mental Health going. We know it isn’t easy, but we are here to support you and your people. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.
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1 in 5 of us experience a mental health issue every year. Mental Health Awareness Month in October is an opportunity for us to advocate for and raise awareness of mental health. With the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting the lives of our communities, it’s time to give mental health the focus and attention it deserves.
Organisations that create and harbour a culture of understanding, empathy and trust allow people to be open about the issues impacting their lives. And it is especially important for people with mental health conditions to feel safe and comfortable in discussing their experience and obtaining appropriate support. Please contact your Relationship Manager to discuss what Mental Health Awareness options we have to support you and your people.
Throughout this year, we have been bombarded with messages from the media and on social media relating to the pandemic. One common message that stood out was to "be grateful for what you have during these times". It can be incredibly difficult to do this when COVID-19 has taken so much in terms of removing us from a physical workplace, travel and family dinners. To explore this perspective, our clinicians here at AccessEAP have turned to the research of Positive Psychology. This has assisted us to discuss situations from a strengths-based lens. The approach, which has been around for decades but is starting to gain momentum, doesn't focus on the sickness or ill health of the individual but rather on their wellbeing. This allows for a shift in perspective.
Positive psychology shifts the focus from anger, depression, fear and jealousy to look at what makes us well: motivation, forgiveness, resilience and compassion. Here is a telling quote from George Valliant, one of the founders of the positive psychology movement, where he describes The Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry.1 It has '500,000 lines of text [with] thousands of lines on anxiety and depression, and hundreds of lines on terror, shame, guilt, anger, and fear. But there are only five lines on hope, one line on joy, and not a single line on compassion, forgiveness, or love." In a pandemic where humanity is still prevailing, despite the whole world being encouraged to stay indoors, looking for and finding hope is even more important.
October is Mental Health Awareness Month. This means that for one month mental health is in focus in the media and the recent budget increase in Medicare support for additional sessions and resources into community mental health, highlights the increase in demand for support which has increased due to the pandemic. Over the last ten years of leading the AccessEAP team, I can see a positive change in many community leaders, customer organisations and most recently the federal budget, recognising that mental health is important to the future of our country. It is, according to the World Health Organisation "a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."2 An important implication of this definition is that mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.
The question for many individuals, organisations and the general community is how is mental health maintained? One of the most concise models of positive psychology was developed by Martin Seligman called PERMA3. The backbone of this theory is that individuals (and organisations, groups and even families) understand, develop and work/live within their signature strengths. PERMA stands for Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishments. PERMA allows for the individual to take their own steps and manage their own wellbeing and can be measured to show growth and success.
Feedback from managers, leaders and even friends and family have asked what role can I play in supporting people around me? On the back of R U OK? Day and now in Mental Health Awareness Month, the answer is about knowledge and empowering oneself to have conversations which are caring and supportive.
Kicking off mental health month, we wanted to take the time for a refresher on maintaining a positive outlook – or at least a balanced outlook. There are a lot of negative stories in the media at the moment and uncertainty about what the future holds. Even when we hear good news such as the easing of restrictions in Victoria, we can't help but feel the sting of what has been lost. Can you easily name something positive that has happened in your work or life this week?
The ability to find balance in our thoughts and feelings is a skill that can be learnt and strengthened. Positive thinking can reduce stress, anxiety and feelings of depression; however, it isn't about forcing a smile no matter what. Positive thinking benefits us because it relies on maintaining both an optimistic and realistic mindset using your strengths and working through challenges with greater optimism than pessimism.
This week we turn our spotlight on maintaining a positive outlook.
We have created two new strategies and tips, and a gentle reminder to make use of the resources available in your state or territory to mark Mental Health Week or Month. How can we, as leaders, model a balanced approach to support positivity as we face constant change and challenges? Our personal and leader tools give you some tips on how to help build these skills in your team. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.
Positivity can help us to move forward in many situations but not all. We are here to support you and your people no matter the nature of your concerns. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.
Published in The Canberra Times 8th October 2020
The new normal "has become a universal term defining the hope that we will return to a pre-COVID-19 existence, or at least a sense of normality. However, for workplaces and their employees, the truth is that we must prepare not for a "new normal" but for continued unpredictability and a new, abnormal life.,” Sally Kirkright, CEO at AccessEAP.
It’s tough to always be your best. Now more than ever the challenge to constantly be our best as leaders, lead with kindness, empathy and respect and respond in ways that support others can tax even the most resilient of us. It’s easy when emotions are heightened to react in ways we usually wouldn’t, as we have a million different things running around our heads. It’s easy to say something that might be misinterpreted or rub someone up the wrong way. It’s equally as easy to interpret something in a way that wasn’t intended. Conflict is a normal part of life, and very often a catalyst for positive change. It is also part of being human.
This week we’re turning our spotlight onto conflict.
How can we harness conflict and foster positive outcomes? Our clinical data shows an increase in conflict – at home, at work and in the community. It’s completely understandable as many people across Australia and New Zealand have had their lives and workspaces closed, changed completely or even remain open serving the public throughout the pandemic. Some people report feeling burnt out or struggling to keep their emotional balance. Some of us desperately want our lives or daily routine back to return to normal. Conflict can often be found during times of change.
How can you harness conflict in positive ways? How we, as leaders, respond to conflict is critical to supporting your people and their responses to conflict. We've created new Tips and Tools on Navigating Conflict. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.
Navigating conflict can be challenging. We are here to support you through this. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.
During this unprecedented and rapidly changing set of circumstances, we all find ourselves in, our Clinical and Organisational Development teams are creating a growing resource bank of tools for you and your people. These Personal and Leader Tools are uploaded weekly to the COVID-19 Toolkits in our Employer and Employee Login Areas. These tools include relevant and timely support for managers and leaders as well as support at an individual level.
For more information and updates, see our Recent News section on our homepage:
- Supporting Working Parents
- Keeping Mentally Healthy
- Maintaining a Positive Outlook
- Navigating Conflict
- Turning to kindness
- Exploring diversity through the pandemic
- Time to look after yourself
- Regain your perspective
- Fostering hope amongst your people
- Positive coping behaviours for your people
- Checking in with your people
- Building positive psychological and emotional skills in your people
- Harnessing your people’s strengths
- Reinvest in your resilience
- Supporting your people through changing physical distancing restrictions
- Leading your people in the new normal
- Harnessing EAP for risk management
- The importance of clarity in uncertain times
- Best practice for leading through crisis and change
- Stronger together: Mental Health Awareness during COVID-19
- Managing your financial stress during COVID-19
We also recommend keeping up to date with the latest government guidelines, rules and recommendations. Please refer to helpful links below:
Protecting yourself and others: Australian Government, Department of Health
Health concerns: COVID-19 24 hour helpline: 1800 020 080
Positive psychology is a scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings and behaviour with a focus on strengths, rather than weaknesses. Positive psychology aims to help people build on the good in their lives rather than repair the bad, and to help people thrive and flourish.
Professor Martin Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology, developed a model of psychological well-being and happiness covering 5 core dimensions. The evidenced based model he developed is known as PERMA (Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning & Achievement), and can be applied to the workplace. Recent research by Australian-based Michelle McQuaid has added a new dimension H for Health to make the PERMAH model.
Positive emotions – Positive emotions boost our job performance. Positive emotions in the workplace are also contagious. People thrive when they are happier and experience less stress and fatigue. They are better able to remain optimistic, problem solve and work together in teams.
Engagement – Look for opportunities to utilise your strengths. Be proactive. Have a conversation to discuss how you can apply your strengths. Managers should look at creating opportunities for team members to draw on their strengths and interests.
Relationships – Fostering positive relationships in the workplace has a number of benefits. It makes people feel connected and supported. Promote opportunities that allow collaboration and interaction.
We know how easy it has become for people and teams to feel isolated, anxious, disengaged, separated, overwhelmed and drained. It can be tough to be your best in life and work in a pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, it has become easier for our thoughts to also become infected, taxing our reserves of resilience and coping. At times like these, it’s the simple things that can make the most difference. Be kind to your people leaders. They’re doing the best they can leading through unprecedented times. Be kind to your people. They’re doing the best they can to do their jobs and support your organisation. Be kind to friends, family and loved ones. Be kind to those strangers you do have a chance to interact with. Most importantly, be kind to yourselves, so that you can then be kind to others. We all feel like we’re juggling work, life and people commitments and balance these in new ways.
This week we’re turning our spotlight onto the power of kindness. Our tools are all ways to help your leaders and people to be kind, compassionate and patient with themselves and each as we all live through the pandemic. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.
The continuation of R U OK? Day conversations is a simple yet powerful of showing kindness to those around you. You don’t need to do this alone. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.
We know that one of the greatest challenges for people leaders right now is finding a pragmatic balance between meeting your people’s immediate needs and leading through the pandemic . A common human reaction during times of stress, anxiety and uncertainty is to feel isolated within ourselves. Those of us who feel more vulnerable may find themselves feeling that only those who have gone through something similar can understand. But one of the greatest strengths we as humans can share with each other is our ability to empathise and try and see things from other’s perspectives. Leaders should strive to ensure communication goes both ways by creating opportunities for teams to give feedback/share ideas. “Can we shift our perspective to find just one benefit? Together, we are here for the long haul.” The richness and diversity of our experiences, when unleashed by shifting perspectives, helped us get ‘unstuck’ and work together on finding solutions.
In dealing with our own, or our people’s responses to the pandemic one thing we’ve noticed is the sheer range of ways people have used to get through the pandemic. These coping strategies have varied greatly between people, and even within individuals as we are trying to draw on whatever might work at any given moment. What might have worked last month probably looks different this month. Even day to day, how we cope shifts.
This week we've created new Tips and Tools on Supporting your wellbeing and Exploring diversity through the pandemic. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. Following on from R U OK? Day we have also included an R U OK? Tips & Strategies resource to keep the conversation going.
We encourage each and every one of you to take some time for your self-care. Investing in your own self-care means that you are better able to be the support someone else might need. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.
- Help make a genuine difference every day
- Freedom to apply your creative spirit
- Strong team environment
To continue our growth we need someone to create and deliver best practice, holistic OD programs and solutions that promote psychological health, deliver measurable organisational outcomes and enable personal growth.
Your role will be to diagnose and translate customer OD needs, (particularly related to leadership development and change management) design and deliver appropriate initiatives at an individual, team and organisational level. Consulting with business partners you will leverage relationships, relevant data sources and emerging thinking about Organisational Development, and design appropriate solutions that drive changes to culture and practice. Partnering with internal stakeholders and external partners, you will ensure that our content is evidence-based, up to date and reflects best in class thinking.
With a strong background in OD design and delivery, and preferably degree qualified in Organisational Psychology, your key attributes will include your analytical and creative capabilities. Your flexibility and adaptability allow you to prosper and thrive in a rapidly changing and growing environment. Most importantly you will have a passion for mental health and wellbeing and enjoy working in a team that is driven by respect, collaboration and accomplishment.
AccessEAP take the health of employees seriously and you will be working in an environment that genuinely cares about the wellbeing of all employees
It’s ok not to be ok. It’s even more ok than ever to not be ok through our current pandemic. When you find yourself consistently challenged in ways you’ve never really experienced before, over an extended period of time, it’s easy to feel drained. We are in a period of time that we can say is unique for most of us as our lives change and evolve in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the moment that you find yourself reading this take a pause and acknowledge that in spite of all the challenges you have done the best you can do, and that’s more than can be expected. Remember, “It’s ok not to be ok”.
This week we’re turning our spotlight on how we can better support ourselves through challenging times. This includes what we as leaders need to do to support ourselves so that we can support others.
It’s a natural human response to say to someone who is going through tough times “I understand”. We recognise that for many of us who are either in heightened physical distancing or supporting our people in that situation, that right now we empathise with you. We may not understand, but we are genuinely cheering and supporting you through these challenges. We’re here for you and will stand beside and with you. We recognise that many people are just trying to make it through the day before doing the same the next day. We also believe it’s very important to remind you that we will get through this together.
Mental health and wellbeing is the focus for many of us, as we head into October's Mental Health Awareness Day, Week and Month, depending on your location. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.