Domestic violence is a common problem in Australia with one in six women having experienced violence at the hands of a current or former partner. Violence against women is estimated to cost the Australian economy $21.7 billion a year. 94 per cent of employees agree that employers should take a leadership role in educating their workforce about respectful relationships between men and women. However, a National domestic violence and the workplace survey revealed that 48 per cent of respondents who had experienced domestic violence disclosed it to a manager and only 10 per cent found their response to be helpful.
The result of the Marriage Equality Survey will soon be known and regardless of the outcome it may be a stressful time for some people in our workplaces and communities. At AccessEAP we encourage a culture of respect, diversity and inclusion. This can be a great deal more complicated than it sounds. In order to respect another's belief system or point of view there generally has to be a level of understanding and knowledge and/or a willingness to to seek understanding. This process can take time and individuals experiencing distress may benefit from using their EAP. Sessions are confidential and may be organised at a suitable location and time.
Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace has dominated the agenda for many companies focused on developing a healthy, sustainable and productive culture for employees, but what is missing from this conversation is the same priority for business leaders and CEOs to support their own mental health.
The culture of any organisation starts at the top, with the behaviour modelled by a company’s leader or CEO filtering down to employees. While CEOs take the world of their business on their shoulders, we have to remember that they are also people – susceptible to feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the immense workload and responsibility of running an organisation. It is this susecptibility or vulnerability, which is often difficult for leaders to acknowledge and show, thereby impacting their mental health and ability to function effectively.
A major source of stress for employees with mental health issues at work is fear of judgement due to the stigma which still exists around mental health. October is Mental Health Month and the campaign promotes the importance of early intervention practices for positive mental health and wellbeing and aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
Suicide remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44 with more than eight deaths by suicide and a further 180 suicide attempts every day. Suicide rates are at the highest they have been for ten years so it’s even more important than ever to be having meaningful conversations particularly if you notice that someone may be struggling.
With more and more Australians reporting work to be a major source of stress and research suggesting that one in six working age person is suffering from mental illness, managers need to take more responsibility in an effort to reverse this worrying trend. Workplaces need to move beyond promoting mental health awareness, and focus on mentally healthy workplaces. This suggests thinking about the way work is designed and what changes can be introduced to prevent psychological harm to employees.
It's time to put ourselves first. 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 put ourselves first, for just one week, and start making positive changes that can last a lifetime. We know women are leading busier lives than ever before and we have a tendency to let ourselves slip low on our priority lists. However, the health of those we love starts with us. By investing more time in ourselves, we are better able to look after the ones we love and care about. Click on the image below to find out more and register.
Half of all Australian men will have a mental health problem at some point in their life and 1 in 8 will experience depression, yet they are far less likely to open up about what is affecting them than their female counterparts. With a recent focus on promoting a healthy body and healthy mind, AccessEAP is doing its part in building awareness in some of the more male orientated workplaces such as construction sites and mines.
Talking about what’s affecting them and taking action are proven ways for men to stay mentally healthy but it’s still difficult to get men to take that all important first step. Often in male dominated industries, the macho mentality still exists where men are reluctant to show sadness or vulnerability for fear of the perception of weakness. If men don’t feel like they can open up and access help, it can have a detrimental effect on their mental health, physical health and overall wellbeing.
AccessEAP has introduced toolbox talks in an effort to raise mental health awareness. These sessions focus on increasing awareness of mental health issues and helping men to see that everyone needs help and that help is available.
AccessEAP has already provided tailored toolbox talks to organisations in the manufacturing, mining and construction industries and is amazed by the immediate effect it has had on participants. Often at the beginning of a session, we struggle to get men to talk but by the end, they can be reluctant to leave and AccessEAP has witnessed large scale discussion amongst participants about issues that may be affecting them in their personal or work life long after the session has ended. The toolbox talks are not only helping men to reach out for help, but also show them their organisation cares about them and values their wellbeing.
The afterglow of the holiday period is gradually fading as many Australians face the reality of their holiday spending spree. With Australians spending nearly $10 billion on Christmas presents last year1 and almost two million saying the festive season will leave them with worrying debt2, it is not surprising stress levels skyrocket post holidays.
Returning to work after the fun of the holiday period brings a dose of reality. Someone who has spent more than they planned can feel out of control and stressed that they haven’t managed their funds as well as they perhaps should have. While stress is a normal part of life, constant levels of negative stress, or distress, can affect many parts of a person’s life, such as health, family, marriage and work.
Traumatic events such as the shooting and car rampage in Melbourne CBD disrupt lives physically and psychologically, creating intense emotional distress for individuals, families and whole communities. Organisations play a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting their employees and their families in the immediate aftermath and in the days, weeks and months following this tragic event.
Economic considerations are one of the determining factors in whether a woman will leave or return to an abusive relationship, making it crucial for companies to develop policies in order to support staff experiencing domestic violence with paid employment.
Despite the common belief domestic violence is a private issue, the costs to the community suggest otherwise, with a 2015 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimating that violence against women costs $21.7 billion a year, with victims bearing the brunt of this cost.
Almost three-quarters of Australian workplaces have no formal policy or procedure for managing staff mental health issues, according to a recent survey by law firm MinterEllison.
Clear policies are crucial to encourage good mental health in the workplace, as is strong leadership to implement them. It is not enough for a workplace to provide a phone number for counselling sessions. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace, which includes identifying mental health risks in the workplace and taking action to mitigate these. While this must be led from the top, employees also have a responsibility.
Increasingly, employed women who have families are expected to juggle a multitude of tasks, managing many and varied demands and responsibilities across their personal and work lives. Between being mothers, carers – of children or aging parents, attending social and work commitments and tending to household responsibilities, women are juggling the expectations of multiple roles.
Now more than ever companies need the support to manage mental health issues in the workplace. A recent survey reported in the Australian Financial Review found mental health issues in the workplace have risen 56 percent in the last year.
This week I attended a seminar hosted by the National Safety Council of Australia Foundation and Sparke Helmore Lawyers which addressed what businesses need to know about managing mental health in the workplace.
The seminar was attended by more than 150 human resource and workplace health and safety professionals from various industries and hosted an impressive panel of experts – Lucy Brogden, National Mental Health Commissioner at the National Mental Health Commission; Tim Moran, Acting Head of Workplace Engagement at beyondblue; and Bill Kritharas, Partner at Sparke Helmore.
The new financial year is here and with it comes tax time. For many Australians this is a stressful time. According to recent research by H&R Block and Officeworks, nearly half of Australians report they find the tax preparation process stressful, with around a third saying they resent tax time, leaving preparations until the last minute. Usually, that stress is exacerbated by lack of knowledge, planning and time constraints which can linger long into the new financial year.
Most of us would have come across a difficult person at some point in our lives and most likely it has happened in the workplace. These individuals may come across as aggressive, intimidating or controlling, which can lead to conflict and have a detrimental impact on the person on the receiving end. However, it’s important to develop strategies to successfully manage challenging workplace conflicts so we aren’t doomed to a high conflict and overstressed workplace.
This week is Men’s Health Week (13-19 June). It is all about promoting men’s health and wellbeing, yet one of the biggest challenges is the fact that Australian men are not opening up. As this culture of stoicism continues to rise, we should be encouraging men to reach out and discuss their feelings with others in both their professional and personal lives.