This Mental Health Month, we’re starting conversations around the importance of employment. The relationship between mental health and work is complex. While employment may have the potential to exacerbate existing psychological conditions, it can also serve as a crucial component in the development of good mental health.
Both part-time and full-time employment can improve an individual’s overall mental health by helping to foster a healthy sense of self, develop a stronger personal identity and improve self-esteem. In addition to this, increased levels of perceived organisational support (POS) have been found to improve employee moods, reduce stress and absenteeism and increase levels of job satisfaction.
Back2Work’s team help job seekers sustain and maintain meaningful employment. Did you know, people with disability, mental or medical health challenges, who are clinically supported during the transition to work, are more likely to retain their work than similar people who did not receive this type of support?
Individuals with disabilities and/or mental or medical health challenges make for wonderful employees. Evidence shows they:
- Boost workplace morale
- Enhance teamwork
- Bring a range of skills and a different perspective to your workforce
- Build strong relationships with customers
- And much more!
With Back2Work’s, participants receive 1:1 individual support from a psychologist or occupational therapist to assist with the development of strategies and intervention to overcome workplace barriers. After all…we know that employment can help develop good mental health habits.
“79% of all clients captured under Post Placement Support (PPS) services were assisted to sustain and maintain meaningful employment.”
You’ve placed your job seeker in work, but they are finding the transition tricky. The last thing you
want is for them to fall out of work, so what can you do?
CoachingIn2Work is Back2Work’s support program designed specifically to help job seekers successfully transition into employment. The service is delivered by a registered psychologist or occupational therapist to address any psychological, psychosocial and physical barriers that might risk sustaining employment.
Want to know more?
Do you know someone that needs extra support gaining employment? Consider a referral to a Back2Work consultant, who will be able to provide the support required for someone to keep a job.
Call us today on 1300 30 28 11 or submit an online referral via our website.
Tags: back2work, disability, employee, employer, Employment, full-time, good health, job, job seeker, jobs, mental health, mental wellbeing, part-time, psychological, psychologist, psychology, teamwork
October is National Safe Work Month, a time to emphasise the significance of safety in all workplaces. The health and safety of Australian workplaces remains a top priority for employers.
Safe Work Australia is again encouraging workplaces to take part and commit to prioritising health and safety at work during National Safe Work Month – a chance to encourage awareness of health and safety in the workplace.
The theme for National Safe Work Month this year is think safe. work safe. be safe.
- Think safe— prioritising preventing injuries by considering work health and safety, planning, improving and maintaining a safe workplace.
- Work safe— walking the talk, leaders executing workplace health and safety procedures to avoid workplace incidents. Everyone has the right to be safe at work. Regardless of what your role is, everyone can all contribute to developing safe and healthy workplaces.
- Be safe— ensuring a safe workplace is a perpetual undertaking, by managing and monitoring work health and safety we can ensure the workplace continues to remain safe.
Being healthy and safe means being free from physical and psychological harm. No workplace should be unsafe and no death or injury is acceptable. A safe and healthy workplace benefits everyone.
In 2021, there continue to be extensive health and safety impacts on Australian employers and workers due to the COVID pandemic. The subsequent uncertainty of COVID in our workplaces has resulted in over-stretching our usual coping strategies. Most workplaces have evolved and adapted to new methods and processes in order to lessen the risks of COVID and to manage the physical and psychological effects of the pandemic on workers through interventions such as employee wellness programs.
Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility… together we can create safe workplaces for all!
Tags: allied health, employee, employer, health, healthy, Humanity Health Group, Me&Work, priority, psychology, responsibility, responsible, Safe Work Australia, Safe work month. Think Work Be Safe, safety, workforce, workplaces
This month, Australians band together to raise awareness of mental wellbeing. It’s our collective duty to care for our own mental health as well as looking out for those around us…this Mental Health Month, there’s an array of resources, activities and exercises to help us get started.
Developed in 1930 by the Mental Health Foundation Australia, this year’s theme is post-pandemic recovery challenges and resilience. During these uncertain times, many have experienced anxiety, stress, loneliness and sadness at the unpredictability of the future, and tumultuous nature of the present. This month, there’s an array of mental health and wellbeing activities taking place across the nation, including:
- Multicultural and Refugee Mental Health Conference,
- Sport and Mental Health Forum
- Parenting and Mental Health Forum
- LGBTQI+ Mental Health Forum
- Future Leaders Conference.
- National Walk for Mental Health – the most popular event, held on 17 October, Australians will walk 5km to raise awareness of mental resilience during these times.
It has been a tumultuous year, with many being separated from loved ones and feeling a financial burden. Each forum and event is targeted toward specific demographics, making it easy to find something that meets our needs.
One in five Australians have been affected by mental health. This month, let’s raise awareness between individuals, families, governments, schools and organisations. Make your mark, and contribute a mentally healthy community – you can learn more at Mental Health Foundation Australia’s website.
Tags: acknowledges, advocacy, affected, aftermath, anxiety, Australian community, battling, call to action, campaign, community activities, conference, contributing, creating, demographics, education, events, experienced, families, forums, future, governments, impact, importance, individuals, involved, loneliness, mental health, Mental Health Foundation Australia, Mental Health Month, mental illness, mentally healthy communities, needs, October, opportunity, organisations, pandemic, positive mental health, post-pandemic recovery challenges and resilience, promote, raise awareness, reduce, relate, resilience, role, sadness, schools, stigma, stress, struggles, struggling, suitable, supporting, targeted, theme, tribute, unpredictability, ups and downs, year
Happiness at work should be a top priority for all organisations. When employees are happy at work, they are better parents, friends, neighbours – they are more likely to give to charity and do volunteering work. It’s also been shown that happy employees are more productive, flexible, resilient, and creative at work.
Happiness at work is a shared responsibility. Australians spend a whopping third of their life at work. Struggling with workplace relationships, or looking for small changes to keep improving as a colleague? We’ve compiled a list of proven ways to build positive relationships – and increase happiness – at work.
#1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Like any relationship, communication is key.
Bringing an open and transparent attitude to work shows people you’re trustworthy and a valuable member of the team. As technology is part of the majority of workplaces, clear communication should exist across:
– Face-to-face chats
-Instant messaging software (e.g. Slack)
– Project management software (e.g. Asana, Trello)
Clear communication comes from clear expectations. Once you know what you need from someone, be clear and direct with your language to avoid miscommunication. The better you communicate, the stronger your workplace relationships will be.
Are you struggling with workplace-related mental health challenges? Find out how to talk to your boss about your mental health.
#2 Schedule a time to build relationships
There’s no rule that says you can’t speed up the process of building relationships. While relationships take time and grow organically, you can do your part by creating time specifically for team building.
This time could be scheduled during lunch, in the first 10 minutes of a meeting, or before you all head home at the end of the day. Time together is a crucial ingredient for positive relationships, with after work events and activities a common way to bond people and create quality time outside of normal duties.
#3 Stay Positive
Positivity is contagious.
Think about your own relationships in life, do the people you enjoy spending time with make you feel happy and uplifted? You can evoke these same feelings in your colleagues by coming to work happy and optimistic.
Whether it’s starting the day with a smile, encouraging a colleague with a mood-boosting compliment about their latest project, or motivating the team throughout the day – positivity adds energy to the workplace that’s impossible to ignore.
Click here to read the complete list of recommendations.
Tags: after work activities, Australians, better, bond, charity, clear, colleagues, communication, compliment, creative, direct, emails, employees, encouraging, energy, expectations, face-to-face, flexible, friends, grow organically, Happiness, happy, instant messaging software, key, lunch, meeting, mental health challenges, miscommunication, mood-boosting, motivating, neighbours, open, optimistic, organisations, parent, positive relationships, positivity, priority, productive, project management software, quality time, resilient, shared responsibility, small changes, smile, stronger, team, team building, technology, texts, time together, transparent, trustworthy, uplifted, valuable, volunteering, work, workplace relationships
We all know first day jitters: the precarious balance between excitement and nerves; encroaching doubts about your ability to do the job with an overarching desire to prove yourself and others; and the uncertainty that comes with opening a new life chapter. It goes without saying that starting a new job can be stressful.
Stress and performance at work are related. An optimum level of stress will give you sharpened senses, heightened cognitive and physical abilities, and enhance overall performance. Too much stress can have a detrimental impact on your overall performance, reducing your ability to learn and think clearly, while too little stress reduces motivation. In this way, it is important to be able to get a handle on your stress so that you can cope, and even flourish, with learning a new job, and meeting new people.
Those Who Are Most Vulnerable to New Job Stress
A new job is stressful at any time, but even more so if you have been out of work for a while, have unstructured routines or have a physical, medical or mental health condition. A 2015 Back2Work study asked participants who had been assessed as having a physical, medical or mental-health condition, what they were most stressed about when starting a new job.
Common responses included:
- Coping physically with full-time work
- Coordinating relationships both at work and at home
- Health issues
In the same study, researchers investigated the effects of providing bi-weekly counselling sessions, where participants could discuss their progress and any concerns. Various counselling strategies were implemented, such as:
Teaching cognitive behavioural therapy to deal with negative thoughts about work, others and performance.
Motivational interviewing to assist the participant to set goals for the future rather than focusing on the current resistance.
Communication and problem-solving strategies to navigate relationships with peers and employers.
Before the support sessions, control groups reported a 4% retention rate for Stream 4 job seekers. Employment Services post-placement measures showed 37.5% retention. Our Back2Work counselling sessions yielded a 67% retention rate. These results show that, for groups that are particularly vulnerable to new job stress, extended professional psychological support can have many benefits.
No matter who you are, new job stress can affect you, so if you’re about to start a new job, or are stressed about a career transition, here are a few strategies that may help.
- Make sure your thinking is balanced.
This means making sure you realise you may not be as quick as your peers at the job. This is because you are learning. Have realistic expectations of yourself in the new role and this sometimes means not being too hard on yourself.
- Remember you will be tired and may not have as much time or energy to invest in your personal life during this time.
Let family and friends know you might be off the radar while you settle into the job. Ask them, “How can we work around this?” and problem-solve a solution. This will balance out over time, once you are confident in your work, know the best way to get there on time and are comfortable with your new co-workers and responsibilities.
- Have the right attitude.
Most employers say they are happy to assist new staff that have a positive, helpful and friendly attitude. Even when you are stressed, asking for help with the right attitude will usually result in a positive outcome.
- Give yourself time.
The normal period of change is four to six weeks. As employment professionals, we know this is the critical period where there is a risk of falling out of employment. So, in the first six weeks, give yourself time to settle in.
- Get support.
We know those who engage in support quickly gain the most benefits so if you feel like you need some coping strategies during your new job transition, talk to a health professional.
Anxiety; fear; COVID-19. These words have become synonymous with each other since the pandemic was announced back in March 2020. For many of us alive today, a global pandemic is unchartered territory, and with that comes uncertainty and fear of the unknown.
If you have been experiencing increased anxiety, you are certainly not alone. But what exactly is anxiety? And what can you do to alleviate it?
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an uncomfortable feeling of fear or impending disaster. Everyone experiences some anxiety in their life, it’s a normal response to stressful situations. But sometimes anxiety can prevent us from doing the things we want and need to do. And when anxiety becomes constant and excessive, it can become hard to cope with day-to-day life.
In most cases, symptoms of anxiety include feelings of fear or impending doom. This may be accompanied by feeling faint or dizzy, experiencing an accelerated heart rate and/or breathing, as well as sweating more than usual. Cognitive indicators may also be present, such as fatigue, restlessness, difficulty with attention/concentration and sleep disruption.
It is important to remember that there is a distinction between feelings of anxiety, and a diagnosable anxiety disorder, which shares the same symptoms, but where the risk of something happening is higher than the risk of this being chronic. If you think you, or someone you know, falls into this category, you should reach out to a health professional.
Anxiety and COVID-19
In a survey distributed during the peak of the pandemic in Australia (March to April 2020), it was found that 78% of the 5070 participants reported that their health had deteriorated since the since the beginning of the pandemic. Rates of self-reported feelings of depression were felt among 62% of people; 50% reported higher anxiety; and 64% reported elevated stress levels. What’s more, those who had a history of diagnosed mental illness, reported even greater anxiety, stress and fear, than those without a medical history.
So, what can we do to combat feelings of anxiety?
Tips for dealing with anxiety
- Set Structure & Plan Accordingly
Break down tasks into small manageable steps to help with concentration. Write To-Do lists to help you keep on track and use the early part of the day to focus on tasks that demand a high level of attention. Set up a routine. Many of our-pre-pandemic routines have dissolved, so it is important to set up new ones to follow.
- Social support
Researchers have shown that keeping a strong support network can play a large role in protecting against mental illness. Social support can help in anxiety-provoking situations and assist in developing resilience and tolerance. Technology gives us the tools to connect, even when we are stuck at home.
- Accept the anxiety
Recognising that anxiety is a normal human experience can help to relieve stress associated with experiencing anxiety symptoms. COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented stressors, so it is important to practice self-compassion, and understand that you are not alone in your experience. Be sure to continue to reframe your thoughts on risk and something bad happening.
- Learn controlled breathing
Controlled breathing techniques can assist to relieve anxiety. Many mobile phone applications have been developed that provide short meditations and breathing exercises to help develop a practice.
YourHealth app (https://yourhealthplus.com.au/)
Smiling mind (https://www.smilingmind.com.au/)
- Focus on what you CAN do…
…not what you can’t do. Focus on your strengths, adopt a growth mindset, and practice positive thinking. Positive thinking is the opposite of anxiety. If feelings of anxiety are becoming overwhelming, take whatever actions are within your control. At work, you may wish to choose jobs where:
- The tasks are self-paced;
- There are small teams;
- The communication mode is variable – i.e. computer, phone, and face to face
- There are repetitive tasks;
Once you have learned strategies to manage your anxiety, then it is likely you will be able to expand your job options.
Anxiety, and feeling anxious, is manageable and more common than you might think. If you are struggling, these 5 things might just help.
Newby, JM., O’Moore, K., Tang, S., Christensen, H., and Faasse, K. (2020). Acute mental health responses during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. PLOS ONE, 15(7): e0236562. https://doi.org/10.1371/