Category Archives: Mental Health

Mindfulness at workplace

How Mindfulness Can Help Corporate Employees

A Third Of Corporate Employees Are Feeling Stressed, Anxious Or Depressed. How Can Mindfulness Help?

Mindfulness at workplaceEarlier this year, results from an Australian study of over 3,500 employees across 42 organisations from different industries found that one third of the participants were suffering from some form of mental disorder. Of those, 36% were suffering from depression, 33% from anxiety, and 31% from stress.

The results echo the statistics from other parts of the world. In the UK, the National Centre of Social Research reports that 26% of people have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, and a further 18% experience an undiagnosed mental disorder each year. The USA reports 20% – 32% of adults have a mental health condition each year, depending on the study. Research on prevalence in Canada and New Zealand show similar results.

Staggeringly, 58% of women and 73% of males who met the clinical criteria for depression or anxiety did not know they had a problem. Only 17% of participants in the clinical ranges for depression or anxiety were seeking help. 47% of employees do not feel comfortable discussing a mental health condition with their manager.

The implications for workplaces include increased absenteeism, presenteeism, disability claims, accidents, injuries and illnesses, grievances and complaints, turnover and legal implications.

Globally, mental health problems are estimated to cost workplaces 2.5 trillion US dollars, and that’s expected to rise to 5 trillion by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.

What Is Stress? And How Does It Lead To Mental Health Problems?

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Stress is the biological and physical response to a perceived threat or danger and is often described as a feeling of being overwhelmed or worried. In modern day society, everyday stressors include managing work and family commitments, work deadlines, financial pressures and family issues. Stress can also be caused by sudden negative change, including loss of a loved one or job, or experiencing trauma, such as a major accident or natural disaster.

Not all stress is bad. Stress can be highly motivating at times and can enable us to perform in job interviews, work presentations etc. The majority of people are equipped with the ability to handle short lived periods of stress. However prolonged periods of stress or excessive stress can lead to significant mental and physical health problems including depression and anxiety.

Everyday stress can be the toughest type of stress to tackle because the source of the problem tends to be more constant, and the body therefore stays in a state of alarm.
Something needs to be done to stop the tide.


Learn more about Stress…


Why Businesses Should Be Investing In Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Training?

A decade ago, one in five employees were living with a mental disorder in a given year and,according to the latest studies around the world, the statistics are worsening. There is still a stigma associated with mental health conditions, and approximately half the time, individuals do not seek help or even know they have a problem. In very real terms this means that management is often operating with half of the information they need to manage their employees.

To tackle this issue, it’s important for HR professionals to offer a wide range of wellbeing initiatives, as one size does not fit all.

Mindfulness based stress reduction training is evidence based education that has proven effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression, and can be offered in conjunction with other organizational wellbeing initiatives, to improve staff productivity, performance and wellbeing.

According to PWC, organizations that are dedicated to creating a mentally healthy workplace, can expect a positive return on investment (ROI) of 2.3.

If you are interested in running our Mindfulness At Work course for your team, please contact us at admin@wmhi.com.au or give us a call.

Author: Tania Young
Tania Young

Tania is an experienced Mindfulness Facilitator who has delivered training to organisations across Australia. Tania is also a Human Resources professional with almost 10 years experience working for medium to large corporate businesses across different industries in London and Sydney. Tania combines her a wealth of HR knowledge and experience implementing wellbeing initiatives, to support employee wellbeing, drive engagement, performance and productivity.

How Mindfulness Can Help Reduce Stress In The Workplace

How Mindfulness Can Help Reduce Stress In The Workplace

How Mindfulness Can Help Reduce Stress In The WorkplaceIn mindfulness workshops, most people raise their hand when asked if they have heard of the word before and are able to describe mindfulness as being more present and calm. So it’s safe to say, Mindfulness has become a widely familiar term.

While participants see the value in feeling less stressed and not getting caught up in thoughts about the past or worries about the future, they do not know where to start and crave practical tools and guidance on how to be more present and feel calmer. For those who have tried mindfulness meditation before, some have given up after feeling like they’re ‘not good’ at it.

Participants are surprised to learn that there is no right way of practicing mindfulness; it can be practiced at anytime, anywhere and in a number of different ways. Simply taking a few minutes before going to sleep, or on your commute home and focusing on your five senses, rather than scrolling through social media or responding to emails to exercise your brain, to support your mental health and wellbeing could be the small yet essential change that is needed to help prevent burning out.


Read more on mindfulness and wellbeing….


Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to improve memory, focus and concentration, improve our immune system functioning and sleep patterns, decrease ruminative thinking, increase self-awareness and our ability to regulate our emotions, empathise and see things from other people’s perspectives.Most importantly – it reduces stress. Practicing mindfulness deactivates the amygdala – (fight or flight response) responsible for stress, anxiety and fear and depression.

How? Through a process called neuroplasticity which is the brain’s ability to change and re-wire itself. Improvements can be seen in as little as a day however structural changes to the brain can be seen on imaging scans after only 8 weeks of practicing mindfulness.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”

– Viktor Frankl

Mindfulness is essentially brain training – the more we practice tuning into the present, the better we become. The more we practice emotional-regulation, the better we become. The more we practice taking a breath before reacting, the better we become.

All good reasons to train your employees to become more mindful, right? If you are interested in running our Mindfulness At Work course for your team, please contact us at admin@wmhi.com.au or give us a call.

Author: Tania Young
Tania Young

Tania is an experienced Mindfulness Facilitator who has delivered training to organisations across Australia. Tania is also a Human Resources professional with almost 10 years experience working for medium to large corporate businesses across different industries in London and Sydney. Tania combines her a wealth of HR knowledge and experience implementing wellbeing initiatives, to support employee wellbeing, drive engagement, performance and productivity.

Mindfulness at workplace

What Is Mindfulness

Mindfulness at workplaceMindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as the “process of paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, non-judgmentally”. But what does this actually mean?

Research from Harvard has shown that we spend almost half of our lives distracted, not living in the present moment, bemoaning the past or catastrophizing the future. We spend very little time living in the present moment.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help people to slow down, and connect with the present moment. Mindfulness not only trains people to experience the world through our five senses and be more open to what life has to offer. Mindfulness also helps people develop greater self-awareness and an opportunity to reflect on their thoughts and feelings objectively. This helps to alter our habitual responses, by taking a pause and choosing how we react to a situation.


Read more on mindfulness and wellbeing….


Mindfulness training is evidence-based education that effectively reduces stress, anxiety and depression, and can be offered alongside other organizational leadership and wellbeing initiatives, to improve engagement, creativity, performance and wellbeing.

According to PWC, creating a mentally healthy workplace for your organisation with workshops of this type, can bring you a positive return on investment (ROI) of 2.3.

If you would like to know about our Mindfulness At Work course for your team, please contact us at admin@wmhi.com.au or give us a call.

Author: Tania Young
Tania Young

Tania is an experienced Mindfulness Facilitator who has delivered training to organisations across Australia. Tania is also a Human Resources professional with almost 10 years experience working for medium to large corporate businesses across different industries in London and Sydney. Tania combines her a wealth of HR knowledge and experience implementing wellbeing initiatives, to support employee wellbeing, drive engagement, performance and productivity.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress DisorderPost Traumatic Stress Disorder is an Anxiety disorder that is triggered as a result of some serious trauma. The Diagnostic Statistic Manual version V states that “Post traumatic Stress Disorder is characterized by the re-experiencing of an extremely traumatic event accompanied by symptoms of increased arousal and by avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma. (DSM-VI)”

In layman’s terms, this means that some people tend to re-experience the feelings of distress and horror from after having gone through some extreme negative event. This can be very disruptive to the person’s life and cause a high level of dysfunction. In the most extreme cases, people have resorted to suicide in a desperate attempt to obtain relief. The classic example of PTSD is that of the returned war veteran that has experienced severe trauma in the battlefield and keeps having flashbacks to being back in the battlefield.


Read more on stress in the workplace….


This is serious trauma. If you suspect you or a loved one maybe suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I suggest you to talk to us or to another fully qualified mental health professional fast. In the meantime, make sure you provide appropriate first aid.

On the positive side, note that, while it is normal for people to have a reaction to a traumatic event, most people recover naturally with time, never get to experience PTSD and go on to lead trouble free lives. Yet in some individuals, these experiences do turn into trauma and could be diagnosed as having PTSD. There are good and valid reasons as to why this happens and the good news is that there are effective treatments that can help you recover.

Please, if you suspect you or a loved one maybe suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I suggest you get help fast. If you would like to further your training, you might want to consider running the Mental Health Essentials course in your workplace where we deal with disorders in greater detail and we show you how to apply a first aid response to mental health emergencies at work. (read our blog – First Aid for Mental Health Problems – W.A.R.M.)

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-author

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

WARM-First Aid for Mental Health

First Aid for Mental Health Problems – W.A.R.M.

WARM-First Aid for Mental HealthSo you think someone you know maybe experiencing a mental health problem? Then the big question is ‘so what do I do? How do I respond now?

There’s no perfect thing that will always ‘work’ 100% of the time, because people are people, and we are all different, but there are definitely some clear principles, that are considered best practice when responding to someone who might be becoming unwell.

We’ve put together an acronym to help you remember the steps. And it’s called WARM.

It’s a reminder that as you do each of the actions in these steps, you are dealing with a person, a human, being, so be warm and friendly in your approach. Remember to use good body language and non-verbal communication that shows you really care. (If you are a manager, we encourage you to look into running a Workplace Mental Health Masterclass for Leaders in your workplace to make sure your team has the necessary skills. In the meantime, you might want to check the blog ‘How to Ask ‘R U OK?’)

Lets have a look at the WARM steps:

W stands for Watch – look for the signs and symptoms. Be observant.
It doesn’t mean that you have to be going about your day, nervously staring at everyone and looking for signs and symptoms. If you do that, you will start to think everyone has them! But it does mean to just be aware. If you see some things, and start to be concerned, don’t ignore it.

A stands for ASK – Approach the person directly. Ask them. This is the simplest, and best way to respond. By going directly to the person it avoids getting in a situation where you are talking about the person or making decisions about the person without having all the information and without them being involved. By going directly to the person, it can also help to minimise any fear or paranoia they may have bout office gossip.

So how do you ask then? (We deal with these topics more in detail in the Mental Health Essentials course)

Questions – It’s a good idea to plan your approach alittle bit. What sort of things do you think you should consider before asking the person? Some questions people are asking that are having good results are ‘Are you ok?’, ‘I’ve noticed that you haven’t been yourself lately, is everything ok?’ or ‘Are we ok?’

It’s important that you find a question you are comfortable with and that is sensitive to the other person’s style.

Location – Where is the best place to raise this? In the middle of an open plan office it’s usually not a good idea. Ideally you would look for a quiet, private spot somewhere, where you wont be interrupted. You want to he person to feel comfortable to talk, if there is something going on. It’s a good idea to keep it informal as well, so if at all possible. It’s also a good idea to avoid taking the person to a formal meeting room or office. In fact, maybe you can bring it up outside the office, going for a walk or over a tea of coffee? Just a word of caution: make sure the environment is safe for the both of you. If you are a person of the opposite sex, could you get someone else to have the conversation? Would that be more appropriate and safer for you? These are things to think about.

Physical Safety – You should also think about physical safety as well. If there is a chance that the person may want to hurt themselves, you, or others, perhaps it is a good idea to be somewhere where you can either escape easily or you can get other people’s attention,should you need to.

Psychological Safety – It’s good to remember that you are human too and have your own issues, needs and wants. While it’s important we take care of others, it’s also important that we remain strong and resilient ourselves. That’s why so many workplaces are doing resilience training these days. We need to take steps to self care at all times and make sure we stay healthy. If you are applying these principles at work and you are in charge of a team, then it would be good to ensure your team is prepared for anything that comes its way. Our Resilience At Work course is designed to help workplaces stay strong.

Timing – Another thing to think about is timing. If at work, and you are the managers, it is probably not a good idea to raise this matter last thing on a Friday afternoon, or at the end of their shift. You don’t know what it could bring up and then they’ll be going home where they may be alone, or in a not so great environment.

You also don’t want to bring it up right before any important work, for example, before they’re about to go into a meeting or give a presentation.


Read more on mental health first aid….


We usually recommend, that if you are able to choose your timing, then before lunchtime tends to be a good idea. That means that after this conversation the person can have a bit of a break before they go back to work.

The conversation might not be a big in depth one, but we want to be prepared just in case it does bring things up for the person.

R stands for Refer – refer on to professional and other help. Here, it is important not to be too eager to jump in with ‘suggestions’ as to what the person should do. Remember, each person will have their own view of what is going on, and the action you think is best, may not resonate with them at all.

So again, questions are best. You can ask things like ‘have you seen anyone about this, or done anything to get some help with it?’. It is quiet possible that they are already getting some professional help.

Or you can ask them ‘what do you think we could do to get some advice with this?’. Notice the ‘we’ language, helps the person to feel like they are not all on their own with this. You’re in it together.

Or you can ask who or what has been helpful in the past? When the person identifies what they think will be useful, they are much more likely to follow through and actually seek help, than if you told them where to go.

Of course, if they really cant think of anything, then you might like to make a couple of suggestions. Make sure to give a few different options, from a few different filters. For example ‘have you thought about seeing a doctor, or a counselor, or even a life coach?’.

Your aim here is to make sure the person knows what options they have available to them, and if possible has agreed to take some steps to get help.

M stands for Monitor – Finally, the last step is Monitor. Check in with them over the next few days or weeks, and continue supporting them by being available to chat or to help with any practical assistance they may need. If they have said they will get some help, just check in and ask how it went. Keep these check-ins casual, and make sure you also talk with them about other, non mental health related things too. You don’t want all your conversations to be about mental health!

So that’s the WARM response. Easy to remember, and easy to do. As long as you follow those steps, you have gone a long way to assisting someone with a mental health problem.

It doesn’t necessarily mean they WILL get help, or that they WILL get better. But remember they are responsible for what they choose to do. You have done your part to help, and followed the best practice we have for responding to someone who may be experiencing a mental health problem. It also means that this person now knows they are not alone. This is very powerful.

If you are ready to get practical, real skills around this subject, our Mental Health Essentials course does just that over one day. Perfect for workplaces of any sort.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-author

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

How to ask 'RU OK'?

How to Ask ‘R U OK?’

How to ask 'RU OK'?Often people feel a little awkward asking someone if they are OK, when they’re worried about them. One reason could be that they don’t want to interfere, but when it comes to mental health, we must ask, so people can get the help they need. Another reason, and it seems to be very common, is that we may not know what to say.  After all, we want to get it right and not make things worse!

Some Things To Keep In Mind

Use ‘I’ Statements

It’s a good idea to start with an ‘I’ statement. By saying ‘I’ve noticed’, or ‘I’m worried’, you are not making any statements directed towards the person. It is less likely to come across as blame or attack, and the person is less likely to be defensive.

Talk About Something You Know For Sure

Make sure that what you have noticed or the reason you are worried, is something that you have seen directly. You DO NOT want to involve someone else by saying ‘so and so told me that you did x’. That can just make the person feel worse or even become paranoid. If you haven’t seen anything directly yourself, it’s a good idea to make sure you have some opportunities to observe how the person is before you approach them.

Keep It Real

You don’t need to sound like a psychologist. It’s annoying. Keep the language casual. This is not the time for jargon and technical language like ‘I’ve noticed you seem to have decreased appetite and lack motivation lately’. Instead you might say something simple and real like ‘I’ve noticed you haven’t really been eating much and seem a bit flat’.


Read more on workplace mental health….


Get The Person Talking

So once you’ve led in with what you’ve noticed, you can follow it up by a general question to get the person talking. You can start with something like  ‘Are you ok?’, ‘is everything ok?’,  or ‘ is there anything I can do to help?’. Or just let them know that you wanted to see if they wanted to talk.

Don’t Give Up Too Quickly

Of course, they may say ‘no no, everything’s fine’. That’s ok. You could gently ask a few more questions to see if they will open up. Like ‘are you sure?’, because you really haven’t seemed yourself lately’.  But if they continue to say there’s nothing wrong, or they don’t want to talk about it, then that’s ok.

Many times though, the person will tell you a little bit of what is happening for them. And you want to make sure to give them plenty of time to let them talk, before you move on to the next step.

So again, questions are best.  You can ask things like ‘have you seen anyone about this, or done anything to get some help with it?’. It is quiet possible that they are already getting some professional help.

Or you can ask them ‘what do you think we could do to get some advice with this?’. Notice the ‘we’ language, helps the person to feel like they are not all on their own with this. You’re in it together.

Or you can ask ‘who or what has been helpful in the past?’ When the person identifies what they think will be useful, they are much more likely to follow through and actually seek help, than if you told them where to go.

Keep The Door Open

Just let them know that if there ever was anything, or if they did want to talk, that you’re available, or that there are other places they can go too, like a counselling service or a helpline.

Take Care Of Yourself Too

Remember you are human too. Make sure you are safe, both physically and emotionally, and make sure to keep your resilience in check. Many organisations are calling us in to deliver resilience courses to their workforces because they have been proven to build resilience and increase protective factors.

We teach the above mental health communication skills and more in our Mental Health Essentials course. If you’d like to run one in your workplace or community, please contact us at admin@wmhi.com.au

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-author

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

Lessons Learned

Focus on the Learning, Not the Lesson

Lessons LearnedA friend from my days as a psychologist in the Army once told me about her role as a counsellor for Army recruits. Twenty-five years ago recruit training methods were, well, different to what they are today. Many recruits found the style of their instructors to be intimidating and scary, leading some of them to have second thoughts about their worthiness to be a soldier. Upon seeking some guidance, recruits would reflect that they weren’t cut out for the role.

Imagine the recruit’s instructor has said to the recruits, “Right you lazy lot, get your useless behinds to the mess hall, make sure you eat ‘cos you’re going to need something to puke up this morning in training, then be back here in 15 minutes, or you’ll be scrubbing the showers with your toothbrushes!”. The recruit, understandably, explains to my friend that they don’t feel their instructor has much faith in them.  (This ineffective training style has thankfully disappeared from recruit training establishments!)


Read more on workplace culture and wellbeing….


My friend would ask them to tell her what it was that the instructor had actually asked them to do.

  • “Go eat breakfast, then be back in 15 minutes”, would come the reply.
  • “And what happens if you focus on the other stuff they’ve said?”
  • “I feel horrible, can hardly eat, and just want to go home”.
  • “Does that help you to achieve your training goals?”
  • “No.”
  • “What difference would it make if you were only to focus on the message, but not the delivery?”

The recruit’s face would visibly shift with the new thought, “I’d know what they wanted me to do, but I wouldn’t take all the other stuff to heart”.

Thankfully the majority of us do not experience this degree of ferociousness in the feedback we get at work. Regardless, the principle is the same – focus on the message, not the delivery. The delivery does not change the message, only the impact of the message, so if that impact is not helpful try to focus just on the message. Reframe the message in a way that is positive rather than negative. Instead of “My boss hates it when I ramble in my emails”, think, “My boss prefers brief emails”.

Those of us who are managers can focus on identifying what an individual needs to learn in order to avoid repeating a mistake. In providing performance management, the error will be a part of the discussion, but not the focus of the discussion – effective work behaviour is the focus. Some workplaces do not see mistakes as the learning opportunities they present, but in an environment where the employee’s manager is able to coach them through the lessons learned, the result is an employee who is better prepared to apply the new knowledge to their advantage.

When the culture is that of blame the focus is on the mistake, or the lesson – when the organisation has a coaching culture the focus is on the next step, or the learning.

Author: Alison Skate
Alison Skate author

Alison Skate is a Workplace Mental Health Specialist for Workplace Mental Health Institute. She began her career as a psychologist in the Australian Army more than twenty years ago. Alison is a leadership coach and workshop facilitator.

EQ better leader

5 Ways Emotional Intelligence Can Make You a Better Leader

As a business leader, your ability to connect with, collaborate with, and inspire the people on your team is crucial. Something that affects your ability to fulfill these roles is your emotional intelligence, a concept popularized by American psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman in his book, aptly named, Emotional Intelligence.

Like intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence can improve over time—which is good news for anyone hoping to lead more effectively in both their professional and personal lives.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, often noted as EQ or EI, is a person’s ability to recognize, understand, manage, and influence their emotions and other people’s emotions. The concept emerged after decades of research suggested that IQ (a measure of a person’s intellectual intelligence) was not always a great predictor of success.

That is, many people with high IQs fail to develop healthy relationships, profitable business ventures, or even general well-being. Likewise, some people who trend lower on the traditional IQ scale enjoy both subjective and objective measures of success in many areas.

This led psychologists to realize that there must be other things also contributing to whether a person succeeds in life. Emotional intelligence, as it turned out, is one of them.


Read more on emotional health and wellbeing…


Based on research from Goleman and other psychologists, EQ has a few key components:

Self-awareness: you can recognize your emotions and understand how they influence your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors

Self-regulation: you demonstrate impulse control, integrity, and the ability to manage your emotions in a healthy way

Social awareness: you’re comfortable in social situations, can pick up on subtle social and emotional cues, and are sensitive to unique group dynamics

Relationship management: you feel empathy for others and are able to inspire and influence people in an engaging way

5 Benefits of Emotional Intelligence for the Leader in You

By sharpening the above components and becoming more emotionally intelligent, you can expect your leadership skills to improve. Here are 5 specific ways:

  1. Improve your communication. The ability to convey exactly what you need from your team, and the ability to listen to what their needs are, can maximize productivity, prevent costly oversights, and ensure that everyone is clear about your company’s mission and expectations.
  2. Defuse conflict. As an emotionally savvy leader, you can prevent small issues from devolving into larger ones, and even address more serious issues with tact and timeliness.
  3. Set a positive workplace standard. You can help create a culture of trust and collaboration that impacts everyone from your colleagues to your customers.
  4. Leverage adversity. Being able to make difficult decisions and reflect honestly on the outcomes allows you to learn more from your challenges and setbacks.
  5. Connect with, develop, and retain quality talent. People want to work with strong leaders. By taking ownership of your own emotional intelligence, you can literally influence and strengthen your team at every level of your organization.

But the benefits don’t stop there. People with a high EQ have been shown to have better mental and physical well-being, less perceived stress, and healthier relationships. So, no matter what your job role is within your organization (or even your own family), know that developing your emotional intelligence can have a profoundly positive impact on everyone around you—including yourself.

How valuable is EQ in the workplace? Tell us what you think.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

Mental Health Month Activities

17 Things Your Workplace Can Do For Mental Health Month Activities

Three elements that contribute to a sense of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace are feeling valued, connected to others, and safe.

Mental Health Month gives us an opportunity to reach out and let people know that they matter. That they matter to us.

Design your mental health month activities with these three elements in mind, to create a culture of compassion, fun and connection.

Have a look at these activities below to find something suitable for your team:

Mental Health Month Ideas that are Quick and Low Cost

Mental Health Month Activities

1. Hold a morning/afternoon tea to raise awareness

This is the traditional event. Provide food and they will come! But be careful with this one. If mental health and wellbeing has not been at its best lately, this can backfire and be seen as tokenistic. If you’re going to do this activity, you want to make sure you follow it up with a long term strategy, or have your Senior Exec team pledge their genuine commitment to mental health and wellbeing.

2. Register your team for the Compassion Games

A little bit of kindness can go a long way. Look at the difference it has made in the video at the website here: http://compassiongames.org/

3. Hold a ‘Lunch & Learn’ session on resilience at work

A quick and easy way to introduce the idea of positive mental health and wellbeing to a large number of employees, in a casual and laid back way. Contact us to find out about having a workplace mental health specialist attend your lunchroom in October.

4. Put posters up in the workplace

Mental Health poster do not have to be all doom and gloom In fact, we think it’s better if they focus on the positive side. You can download our posters for free at https://www.wmhi.com.au/posters

5. Tell each other what you like about them

Perhaps you write on a card for each of your team mates, or just make a point of telling them. Either way, find your way to let others know you like having them around. You never know who may really need to hear it today.

6. Engage your team in the ’10,000 Step Challenge’

The research is very clear – physical health and mental health go hand in hand. Have some fun with it by challenging your colleagues to a ‘Step Challenge’. Have participants track their steps with an iphone, fitbit, or pedometer, and log it each day. Offer a prize to the winners each week.

7. End your meetings with “proud and thankfuls”

Let your colleagues know they are appreciated, by this short ritual. At the end of a team meeting or briefing, having each person nominate one person they are thankful for, and why. You’d be surprised what a difference this can make to teamwork and connection.

8. Include an employee story in your newsletter

Have an employee who has experienced mental distress share a little bit on what helped them to feel better. Make sure the story is positive and inspirational – there’s no need to go into all the gory details. It’s even better if this is a person in a senior position. It lets people know that mental health can affect anyone, and that it’s OK to talk about it. Make sure the person is fully comfortable with talking about it.

9. Share some information or videos by email

Let people know it’s Mental Health Month, and share some information on where people can go to get help in the local area. Find some (tasteful) funny or inspirational videos and share them with others.

Mental Health Month Ideas for the Truly Committed

1. Host a ‘Wellbeing Day’ with a range of resources for all staff

This can be an annual event. Find an appropriate space and invite all staff to come along for the day/half day/short session. Set up some tables and invite local health professionals to share some information about their services (yoga, fitness, nutrition, counselling, volunteer groups, etc). Have lucky door prizes and competitions.

2. Invite a Speaker to your workplace event

Invite a mental health or motivational speaker to attend your event and start a conversation about wellbeing. Our specialists are available throughout October, so contact us for more information.

3. Launch an Online Learning Program

Online courses can be a great way to educate employees who have little time, or who are dispersed geographically. Pretty much anything can be delivered by an online format – so long as you have internet connection. This is a quick and simple way to get need to know information to your people.

4. Run some live training on mental health or resilience

Live training is the best way to learn about mental health and wellbeing. Our Workplace Mental Health Specialists are extremely knowledgeable, yet down to earth and fun facilitators who will make sure you have a great time while learning such vital skills that you can apply at work or home, for the rest of your life.

5. Announce the roll out of your Employee Wellbeing Survey

What better way to really find out how the workplace impacts on employee wellbeing than by asking the people themselves! Of course, this has to be done carefully. Our EWS16 Assessment uses validated measures, to help workplaces discover the true level of mental wellbeing within their specific organisation, but more importantly, to identify which activities will make the biggest difference to their employees overall. So their efforts can be channelled in the right direction.

6. Create a ‘Green Room’ space

Workplaces that are benchmarking when it comes to mental health and wellbeing are very aware of the impact of the physical environment on mental health and wellbeing. If you don’t have one, consider setting up a space that is more relaxed and laid back environment for staff to use when they like. It doesn’t have to be labelled as a ‘mental health space’, but just a nice room or area with some couches, magazines, a ‘pod’, a few plants, or whatever – be creative!

7. Put out the call for workplace champions or ‘first responders’

Just as we have designed Workplace Health & Safety Officers, so too it is recommended that workplaces have ‘Mental Health First Responders’. These people need specialised training in how to respond to people that may be in emotional distress. They may also sit on the Wellbeing Committee and be involved in wellbeing initiatives for the organisation. It helps to ensure that initiatives are communicated and adopted organisation wide, and means that work can be distributed amongst team members.

8. Begin your ‘WELL Certification’

WELL Certification is the leading tool for advancing health and wellbeing in buildings globally. A WELL Accredited Professional can help you to achieve certification for your building, workspace or community. Contact us for more information.

So, please, let me know what you did for Mental Health Month, will you?

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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