Men's Health Week 2020

It's Men's Health Week from the 15th-21st of June. The focus is on Men and Families - Working Together for Men's Health, find out more on the official website.

At AccessEAP, we often hear from men that they feel pressure to be seen as invulnerable, stoic, and fearless. This can lead to unrealistic expectations that as a man you should be able to cope no matter what, and "get on with it". Emotions become synonymous with weakness and powerlessness. Men may also dismiss their feelings as unimportant and worry about burdening other people with their concerns.

Men experience emotions just as much as women do, however, the pressure not to show emotion or vulnerability means that emotions will build-up and result in what appear to be random and unexpected behaviour. Reluctance to talk about or acknowledge emotion can manifest in all sorts of unhelpful ways including:

  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Addiction to gambling or betting
  • Ending relationships prematurely
  • Resigning suddenly from their job
  • Stopping activities of interest e.g. sports
  • Neglecting friends and family
  • Working longer hours
  • Communication only via emails or text messages
  • Aggression or violence
  • Excessive time watching fantasy films, or gaming

What can AccessEAP do to help?

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Bring your Pets to Zoom

Friday, June 26th is this year's Take Your Dog to Work Day. With many people still working from home, this June we encourage you to bring your dog and any other pets to your online meetings! At AccessEAP, we have set up a few wellbeing sessions throughout June so that everyone can connect with each other but most importantly, introduce their pets. If you would like to get involved in this initiative, make sure to set up an approved online session and make sure to take some happy snaps of your furry friends.

If you are still able to bring your dogs into your office on the day, make sure you check out the RSPCA Website for tips to make the experience run smoothly. 

 

 

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You may feel isolated, but you’re not alone

It has been just over two years since AccessEAP started working with Support Act to recognise the needs of a group of workers who were previously “left out” of traditional Employee Assistance Program support. Back then, due to the incredible fundraising efforts of Support Act and it’s founders, mental health services were made readily available to the music industry. That was a great achievement but Support Act saw the needs of so many others, in creative industries, being left unmet. Next came theatre industries and now all artists and art workers across Australia.

The twelve-month expansion of this essential service has been made possible thanks to the Australian Government, through the Office of the Arts. Clive Miller, CEO, says he is thrilled that Support Act can extend access to the Helpline to the wider arts community during this challenging time.

It is with immense pride that AccessEAP assists Support Act along this journey. The Helpline is delivered in partnership with AccessEAP and is a free, confidential service available 24/7, staffed by professional clinicians familiar with issues faced by people working in music and the arts.

There are many other groups of people who provide incredible value but work outside of regular employment conditions. Volunteers, carers and association members would not usually be covered by EAPs however, in many cases, they are groups with significant needs. AccessEAP recognises that the one size fits all approach isn’t appropriate when mental health and wellbeing are in the balance. AccessEAP provides a range of other assistance programs to cater to the specific needs of these groups and just like Support Act we are always looking to expand our programs to ensure the best wellbeing outcomes for people at life and work.

The Support Act Wellbeing Helpline is now available to all arts workers and can be accessed by calling 1800 959 500 within Australia, or via email. Zoom video calls are also available. “You may feel isolated, but you’re not alone”. This short video is a great way to promote this service to those in the creative arts.

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Support for teens going back to school after isolation

While many lives have been put on hold due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, some argue that certain groups have been affected by the loss of physical contact more than others. Teenage years are characterised by rapid learning, risk-taking, building relationships and establishing a sense of self. Having to spend more time than usual in the family home can cause added tension with fewer outlets for release. With many high schools around the country returning to the classroom, there is some sense of normality being restored; however, for tertiary education students, the path back to campus is still unclear. 

As parents, it is important than ever to keep the lines of communication open; 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.

Keep active

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The serious longer-term impacts of COVID-19 on mental health

As we all do our part to flatten the coronavirus curve, a concerning new curve is emerging. Reported in The Australian last week, an increase in suicide rates and a generational mental health crisis directly linked to the pandemic is being predicted by the country's top mental health experts.1 While people have been actively considering how best to manage the physical second wave of COVID-19, few organisations are putting the same thought and preparation into this ‘mental health’ second wave. Mental health has been reprioritised and is now front and centre of the national health agenda and transition strategy right now. With the estimated cost of lost productivity reported to be up to $5 billion. It is perfectly normal in a crisis for people to focus on their immediate needs, just as it is for organisations. Many organisations, and their leaders, must now shift their thinking to how best support the mental health and wellbeing of their people.

AccessEAP works with organisations to proactively build resilience and target protective factors to support people through change. Helping organisations to prepare their people to achieve the best outcomes and meet new challenges.

AccessEAP recognises that leaders need support to find the time and space to make difficult decisions and equip their workplaces for the transition to the ‘new normal’ and potential return to the physical workplace. Data from Professor Ian Hickie at Sydney University’s, Mind and Brain Centre shows that mental health will be the number one priority for leaders through COVID-19, recovery and a potential recession. “Now the most important part of the recovery is helping as many people return to work as soon as possible.” 2.

Our Clinical and Organisational Development teams work with our customers to build on what’s currently working in their people strategy and successfully harness this for the additional investment needed to target support for your people and organisation. Contact your Relationship Manager to ensure your organisation is getting the most impactful benefit from the latest COVID-19 support resources available from AccessEAP.

References:

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How to build resilience through COVID-19

Published in Human Resources Director 7th May 2020

Marcela Slepica, Clinical Services Director, AccessEAP, said in the current climate, it’s important to manage the demands of COVID-19, such as social isolation, caring for our families and home-schooling children while juggling work.

“It’s vital to remember that we are not born resilient. We can develop coping strategies, including practised traits and learned behaviours that will help us remain positive and deal with new challenges,” she said.

Workplaces play a part in maintaining a semblance of normality, by providing employees with structure, some social connection and purpose.

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Learning Experience Designer - Sydney based

  • Help make a genuine difference every day
  • Freedom to apply your creative spirit
  • Strong team environment

Your role will be to take the lead in the design of learning experiences and materials that deliver the best possible outcomes. Working as part of a team you will be the subject matter expert in advising and guiding the creation and ongoing development of digital and traditional learning materials.

Combining your L&D and technical design skills you will focus on translating customer needs into best in class materials and experiences that truly enhance the learning experience.

With a strong background in L&D design, 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 takes the health of employees seriously and you will be working in an environment that genuinely cares about the wellbeing of all employees.

For more information call David Williams on 0414551795 or to apply send your resume to dwilliams@kurtispaige.com.au.

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COVID-19: AccessEAP Healthcare Hotline

The public health challenges of COVID-19 may no longer be in the news several times a day, but our healthcare workers continue to be on the frontline of this crisis and under immense pressure. Healthcare workers need easy access to support as early as possible to ensure the best mental health outcomes. Launched last week, the AccessEAP Healthcare Hotline responds to the specific needs of our healthcare customers during the pandemic. 

How does AccessEAP's Healthcare Hotline work?

  • The dedicated, 24/7/365, toll-free Healthcare Hotline number will be recognised and answered by our client services team. 
  • Healthcare clients will be offered same day counselling appointments via telephone or video. 
  • Healthcare clients will have access to AccessEAP's most senior clinicians and psychologists with expertise in working in the healthcare sector and/or a hospital environment.

Visit the Primary Healthcare Toolkit within the Employer login area for more information or to discuss how AccessEAP can further support your organisation, please reach out to your dedicated Relationship Manager.

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Coping with COVID-19

Our Clinical and Organisational Development teams are creating a growing resource bank of tools for you and your people, including COVID-19 webinars.

We have released a new webinar for you on Coping with COVID-19. This webinar has been uploaded and is available for you to view right now. Click the below link and register your name and work email address to view the webinar.  You can also access the video and more resources under COVID-19 SUPPORT in our Employee Login Area.

 

AccessEAP COVID-19 Resources

To access our COVID-19 specific resources on Mental Health Awareness, Self-care, Domestic Violence support, Working from home and more, login to our Employee and Employer Areas of our website.

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Connection through COVID-19 - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

Make sure connection is more than a COVID-19 buzz word

Change is inevitable. Expected changes are situations we adjust to, but it becomes harder when it is unexpected. During the pandemic, we have seen the impact across all aspects of our lives. One of the hardest challenges for myself personally, and for everyone at AccessEAP, has been creating a sense of connection through technology.

In the face of COVID-19, we are already seeing how we rapidly adapt to change when required. At AccessEAP, we strengthened our connection to our customers and their people, by transitioning to a new remote telephone system. In two weeks, I witnessed how people embraced the new system and worked to meet this changeover. For many of us, there was an adjustment, learning the skills of working from home, the usual technology challenges as well as missing that in-person support from colleagues and teammates. Having the shared purpose of supporting our customers helped us to achieve an amazing feat in a short amount of time.

Internally, the importance of ensuring that teams are connecting so they can continue to work well and productively is the current focus.  At AccessEAP, many of our teams have scheduled online video team meetings to start the day, which includes planning the day but also the important opportunity to interact with colleagues. Professor Martin Seligman, one of the founders of the positive psychology movement, notes that happy people have high levels of social connection. We are social beings, and if our work is shaped around the ways we interact with each other in our organisations, then maintaining peer connections electronically becomes a vital form of stability and motivation.

Given this, a high-performing team working virtually is more important than ever for productivity, for job satisfaction and a sense of balance outside of the workplace. How does one achieve that? The factors that hold high-performing teams together, particularly as they negotiate crises, include communication, working with a common purpose and shared goals through effective teamwork and creativity.  Team-members who bond share similar personality characteristics, including hope, curiosity, perseverance and gratitude.[1] [2]

This is not to say that group-thinking and high optimism make for great teams. Some conflict and manageable pressure can be creative and energising. Good leaders in a virtual world ensure that staff feel psychologically safe to share, to challenge and to work through issues. By inspiring their teams with their own sense of hope, energy and clear communication, and by pulling colleagues into their shared vision of purpose, it helps to work towards a stable and productive future [3]. Trusted leaders encourage a sense of control and of achievement and value. Leaders need to notice if people are not sharing or are lacking in energy and try to understand what is happening. Asking questions is a great place to start. 

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Team Connection

Our work environments have changed drastically over the past few months. For many, that means working from home and having to navigate team dynamics from a distance.

Whether your team dynamics have changed or not, see our tips for an effective teamwork refresher below: 

1. Review Objectives and Goals

Successful teams have clear objectives that all team members are aware of and working toward. There is a clear vision and shared values. Team members are committed to the goal and live the values.

2. Participation

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National Reconciliation Week 2020

What is National Reconciliation Week?
 
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The dates for NRW remain the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.
 

In 2020 Reconciliation Australia marks twenty years of shaping Australia’s journey towards a more just, equitable and reconciled nation. 2020 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the reconciliation walks of 2000, when people came together to walk on bridges and roads across the nation and show their support for a more reconciled Australia.

Find out how you can get involved from the National Reconciliation Week Website.

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Resilience through COVID-19 - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO, AccessEAP

This month I’m writing about managing stress and building resilience. It’s been a stressful summer as the drought led to the worst bushfire season in memory. Then the rains that should have been so soothing caused floods in many areas. And no sooner did we accommodate that development, COVID-19 appeared.

Being resilient is the ability to bounce back after challenges. If you fail your driving test, you can lick your wounds and never get your license – or do more practise and try the test again. However, when one challenge after another appears, it’s harder to catch your breath and keep bouncing back. During this unprecedented time, we all find ourselves in, building resilience and trying to manage our stress levels can seem even more difficult than usual. As a manager or leader, you will be experiencing your own emotions as well as feeling responsible for your people or teams. As leaders, we are used to being in control and providing guidance and support to others, but we are also human. Remember that feeling anxious, fearful, stressed, angry and irritable are common and normal feelings during uncertain times.

Managing stress goes alongside resilience, and this is certainly a stressful time for many people. Stress can emerge in small, sneaky increments. When a challenge arises, you feel a rush as adrenalin hits your system: It increases blood pressure and heart rate as part of our fight-or-flight mechanism. Sometimes our day has so many challenges that we load up on adrenalin before we have the time to work the last dose from our body. When we stay at that elevated level, our body is working above capacity. Short term, that’s OK. If it goes on without reprieve, we get worn out, making it harder for that resilience ‘bounce back’ to arrive.

We feel stress, physically and emotionally. Knowing where your body holds it – tight neck, sinking feeling in your gut, heartburn, a sensation of pounding blood in your hear or chest – allows you to stop and see what’s happening. You or those around you might notice behavioural changes, like being snappy in a conversation that you would not normally worry about, or being abrupt towards someone you care for. Sleep disturbances, needing a drink after work, difficulty concentrating (or obsessing on bushfires, floods or viruses!) all indicate that we are stressed.

Use a STOP technique at a moment like that:

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Handling Stress

Workplace stress can present in physical symptoms and manifest as fatigue, headaches, indigestion, insomnia and anxiety. Managing stress can be a key factor in feeling more productive and enjoying your work. Here are some tips to help you manage your stress levels:

  • Work out your priorities

Write them down each morning, rank them and take one thing at a time. Include the important people in your life as priorities and attend to these relationships. Make tasks achievable.

  • Prioritise relaxation and exercise

Set aside time each day for recreation and exercise. These are not optional extras for handling stress, they are essential. Gentle exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, meditation, yoga, dance and even hobbies are all excellent. Find what suits you best.

  • Practice saying ‘no’

If you feel overloaded, think hard before committing to other people’s expectations. Talk this over with someone you trust. Practice saying “Not immediately, but next hour/day/week/month” to buy yourself time.

  • Accept that change is a part of life

Make allowances for the fact that stress can make you more sensitive in reacting to others. Discuss your feelings with the person responsible for your agitation. If it’s impossible to talk it out, do some physical activity at the end of the working day to relieve tensions.

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April 2020 Public Holidays

With the Easter Long Weekend (Friday 10th until Monday 13th) coming up, followed by Anzac Day on Saturday the 25th, there are a lot of April Public Holidays.

Please be assured our counselling and support services are available 24/7, 365 days a year however our other business functions observe the Australian National public holidays.

 
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Building Resilience Wellbeing Tips

 

See our 10 Tips for Building Resilience below.

For assistance or more information on our Stress Awareness and Building Resilience Webinars & Training, speak with your Relationship Manager today.

 

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COVID-19 Major working from home struggle facing employees during the pandemic

Published in Yahoo Lifestyle 2nd April 2020

With many people all around the country now working from home due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Marcela Slepica AccessEAP Director Clinical Services, believes there’s definitely an increased risk of workplace exhaustion.

“For example, working parents who have young children at home, have to to juggle teaching, supervising and keeping children busy while also trying to work and meet deadlines. In addition to this, there are fears of not wanting to risk losing their job, which means they may be working late at night and doing overtime,” Marcela said.

“The pressures and demands can be significant. Those working alone who are isolated may struggle with loneliness, motivation, and feel disconnected from their colleagues. This may impact their feelings of anxiety, may affect sleep, and could also cause them to work longer hours as they fear losing their jobs.”

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COVID-19 Supporting each other in a time of crisis

Published in mybusiness 1st April 2020

Communicate often, according to Marcela Slepica, AccessEAP Director, Clinical Services.

It’s important for employers to check in with their team members. Regular check-ins help people to feel connected, and managers should try to provide structure for employees. The situation is constantly changing and evolving, so reassuring people we are in this together is vital. 

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Covid-19 Update - Support for your people

AccessEAP has continued to monitor the ongoing advice from the Commonwealth Department of Health and World Health Organisation to plan and manage responses to Covid-19. We are now experiencing the impact of infection here in Australia. We’ve had a number of people, our own included, ask for advice and support on how to manage individual, team and organisations in the current situation. As a result of these requests, we wanted to share examples of how we have approached this with our own people as it is an evolving situation we are all experiencing together, the scale of which we have not previously encountered. We believe it is important that we have a conversation and learn from each other.

AccessEAP has a Business Continuity Plan to ensure our ongoing operations and ability to support customers and their people during times of crisis. In addition to our Business Continuity Plan (BCP), AccessEAP has a Multiple Customer Support Plan. We have extended our BCP and created a specific Covid-19 plan based on the Commonwealth Government advice and risk levels. As a leadership team and organisation, these plans allow us to have clear, thoughtful discussions to manage how we can continue to provide support to our people and our customers. We’ve incorporated official WHO and Commonwealth Government advisory notes around general and personal hygiene strategies in our communication to our people. What we have learned in providing support to our own people is they need calm leaders focused on supporting them during what is an anxious time. We know from our experience that they can feel reassured when we communicate with them about how we are proactively managing risks to them and their wellbeing. We are putting their safety first.

We believe it is critical to remain abreast of current events, which we do by monitoring official government advisory releases and reputable news sources. We know from experience exposure to sensationalised, highly emotive media sources can directly impact the psychological health of individuals, and therefore their teams and organisations. This can be further compounded by exposure to social media, which does not always distribute correct information which can further exacerbate heightened feelings of anxiety and confusion. How have we addressed this with our own people? Our CEO Sally Kirkright has shared her own self-care strategy in an internal newsletter - selectively curate and choose what information to let in, reduce exposure to mainstream news coverage and focus efforts on supporting her own emotional resilience. We have encouraged conversations at work for our people to discuss how they are feeling and to reflect on and share their own strategies for managing their individual resilience, and through this to provide support to each other. We encourage you to have these discussions with your people.

If you have any further questions or would like to discuss specific requirements on how AccessEAP can assist your organisation and your people please contact your Relationship Manager or the Manager Support Hotline. As always, as your EAP we are here to support your people whatever the nature of their concerns, please contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.

 

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Mythbusting Sleep

There is a plethora of information available on sleep, it's in the media, dispensed by family and friends and of course at the touch of a link via “Dr Google”! It can be overwhelming sifting through numerous and sometimes conflicting articles. What sleep routine should we follow? How many hours constitutes enough sleep and how much is too much? Here at AccessEAP, our clinical team have put on their myth-busting gear and provided simple, actionable information on getting some important shut-eye.

We all need sleep and it is often the thing that when we are busy we cut down on, however sleep is essential to our wellbeing and to our coping. It enables us to physically and cognitively recover and integrate things that have happened during the day. It helps us recover from daily stress and restore energy, without our recommended 7 to 9 hours sleep (for adults aged 18-64 [1]) over time this can lead to an increase of physical pain, anxiety and depression as well as compromising our immune system and general energy level [2].

A normal sleep cycle is 90 minutes and during this time our body temperature drops, muscles relax and heart rate and breathing slows. The cycle includes dreaming REM (rapid eye movement) that enhances learning, memory and enhances positive emotional health, which are all vital to us functioning to the best of our ability during the workday.

Research by Sleep Health Foundation [3] found that 33-45% of Australian adults are sleep deprived most nights, causing irritability, fatigue and undermines our productivity and relationships. The study found women are more likely than men to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, while men are more likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnoea, where breathing repeatedly stops and starts, causing sleep disturbance. A sleepy fatigued person is accident prone, judgement impaired and more likely to make mistakes and poor decisions [4] whether that’s at home or in the workplace.

Serotonin is released during sleep (not stored in the body) and is a mood regulator for general wellbeing. Also, weight gain can be exacerbated by not getting enough sleep because insulin is produced in the middle of the night which assists in food digestion. If we are tired we tend to overeat to gain energy. Another health implication supporting the benefit of sleep is the release of the hormone melatonin that suppresses the development of tumours and assisting the nervous system against degenerative diseases [5].

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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.