Mind People at Work Digest - Jan-Feb 2017


Now that I am working full-time as a consultant for Social Ventures Australia (a social purpose organisation that focuses on overcoming disadvantage in Australia), I thought perhaps the best way I can share ideas and information with other people who are as passionate about workplace mental health as I am, might be round up of articles that I have picked out of my newsfeed. I regularly share articles on the community Facebook page Mind People at Work and via LinkedIn, but hopefully this digest will allow you to jump straight in where your greatest interests lie. Do let me know what you think of this experimental approach ....

Understanding Mental Health

In the article The dangerous ideal of mental health (published in New Zealand), Simon Keller says, with a lack of understanding of what good mental health is, we should be wary of concepts like those promoted by the positive psychology or mindfulness movement. There is unlikely to be a one-size-fits-all definition and for each person, it would probably encompass more than just their emotional state. A succinct read and thought provoking.

The article What's Wrong with You? Nothing - What happened to you? Something puts forward reasons why the biomedical response to diagnosis of mental illness is flawed and needs to be replaced with compassion and understanding of mental distress. Everyone can learn a lesson here - to ask 'What happened to you?' not 'What's wrong with you?' when you encounter someone in mental distress.

As a complement to the above articles, the short film called Medication and mental illness from 2015 uses the voice of people with lived experience and I found it discussed the topic of medication in a balanced way. It contains an important message for consumers, carers and clinical practitioners - recovery from mental illness is not all about medication and the consumer's wishes need to be listened to.

"Everyone has a voice and has a choice."

It makes a case for change in attitudes by clinicians for open dialogue and working as a team; and emphasises that for medication to be effective, they must ensure that the experience, desires and wishes of consumers and carers is valued and never ignored. One of the clinicians also makes the point that for mild to moderate mental illness, medication may not be needed and talking therapies could be a better alternative.

Managing Mental Health at Work

Starting my new full-time role was a good test of my own ability to monitor and manage my mental health. In the article Old Habits Die Hard - Mental Health Starts with Yourself!, I shared some thoughts on how to form habits that improve your mental wellbeing and resilience at work.

According to the findings of a new survey by Legal & General, almost 80% per cent of employers believe their staff are comfortable having mental health discussions at work. However, the same survey shows that Less than 10% of employees feel comfortable disclosing mental health problems. Why do you think that is the case? Is it fear and stigma, or could it be that some managers are actually part of the problem?

The article Managing mental health in the workplace: Advice for employers and employees contains a few basic tips about how to have conversations about workplace mental health without causing unnecessary distress.

I wrote a similar themed article from my own lived experience last year called Talking about Mental Health Issues in the Workplace, that also talked about attitudes towards mental health, the analogy and overlap with physical health, and mental health as a sliding scale.

Making Reasonable Adjustments in the Workplace - Managing Mental Health Issues is an LinkedIn article from Tasha Broomhall, an organisational mental health specialist, that contains some great practical advice for workplace leaders and managers.

Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces

Employees get savvy about mentally healthy workplaces introduces the second annual SuperFriend survey and report on workplace mental health (the article contains a link to the report). It is a good benchmark for Australian businesses; it highlights some of the basics required for a mentally healthy workplace and emphasises that employees now expect this to be taken seriously.

Creating a culture of positive mental health and wellbeing is a well informed and informative LinkedIn article from Tasha Broomhall, an organisational mental health specialist, describing how workplace leaders can and should become more involved in workplace mental health in order to shift their culture in a more positive direction. Tasha is running a series of workshops in different Australian cities on this topic.

A study has been released about what makes for a health working week. The cover article Call for a rethink on working week reports the finding that people shouldn't be working any more than 39 hours a week if they want to protect their wellbeing. If your workplace is anything like mine, limiting work to 39 hours a week is a near impossibility and goes against the accepted culture. So what can we do about that individually and collectively if it is harming our wellbeing?

Another article released at the same time and reporting on other findings from the same study says Work hour limits need to change for better mental health and gender equality. Having been a working mum I can only say, "Too true!"However, what are your experiences of parenting equality and juggling the demands of work life?

"Australia needs to tackle the widespread belief that it is fair or feasible for people to work long hours without compromising either their health or gender equality."

Discussion Forum

If you want to share your responses or thoughts to any of these articles, leave a comment below, or head to the community Facebook page Mind People at Work to read and share more.

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