Tag Archives: mental health

Police Line Do Not Cross

The Rise Of The Senseless Crime – What ’s Mental Health Got To Do With It?

Just a couple of days ago, in Brisbane out of all places, a man approached another man, and set him on fire. When the attacker appeared in court, he’s described as ‘numb’. Then we are informed that this man has a history of mental disorders. Is there a connection? I guess we’ll never know for sure what on earth possesses a man to do something as horrible to another human being but I can tell you one thing: a mental disorder rarely does. But, drugs, any kind of drugs, do.

Police-line-do-not-crossA number of eminent psychiatrists and scientists have been warning us for some time now about the power of drugs, medication in a medical setting, to turn us into ‘unfeeling’, ‘numb’, ‘zombies’. Or as I like to call it, ‘chemically induced psychopathy’.

Drugs can, and often do, impact on our ability to make decisions. Just ask anyone that has ever had a few too many drinks. So do medicines. Am I saying no one should take medicines? Absolutely not. That would make no sense. What I’m saying is that we need to be more aware of their impact on people so we can monitor the effect of medication more closely.

There’s a reason why so many voices are saying that we, as a society, as people, are over medicated. There’s also a reason, and a valid one, why so many voices, educated, experienced voices, are saying that, on the whole, psychiatric drugs, do more harm than good.

Let’s not rush and stop all medication. But let’s take some responsibility and start having an honest conversation.

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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Work life balance

‘Work-Life Balance’ is a trap

A colleague of mine was putting together some guidelines for her company about how to minimize workplace stress, and stay mentally and emotionally well at work, and she asked me to have a look over it and provide some feedback.

Looking at the list of strategies her company had come up with, I noticed that about 90% of them focused on things like limiting work hours to the 8 hour shift, making sure to ‘switch off’ from work as soon as you leave, not accessing work emails and phones outside of work hours, and basically adhering to a strict distinction between “work time” and “life” time. Now this isn’t an uncommon idea, we’ve all heard of the phrase ‘work – life balance’, but let’s delve in a bit deeper.
Work life balance
If you look at the language used in this expression and the subconscious connotations it sends, you might come to the conclusion that it would be better not to use the phrase at all, and definitely not promote it.

Firstly, when we juxtapose two ideas like this next to each other, we are implying that they are opposite of each other, or at least very distinct and different elements. This is especially dangerous when we compare ‘work’ and ‘life’. Let me ask you – what is the opposite of life? …. It’s ‘death’, right? So by juxtaposing work and life, we are actually equating ‘work’ with death! Are you not alive at work? When did ‘work’ become a bad thing?

Now I know this isn’t what is intended when people use the expression, or recommend it to others, but, psychologically, this interpretation can be made very quickly and subconsciously, without us really paying any conscious attention to it. After all, it’s not what we mean, but what is being heard.

If we really buy into the idea of work-life balance, it often is not long before we experience ‘life’ as good, and ‘work’ as bad, and then it makes sense to want to put some limits and boundaries around how long we spend in that ‘bad’ place. As a manager, is that the message you want to send your staff?

But what if work wasn’t bad at all? After all, the research shows that overall, work is good for your mental health and for recovery from mental distress. And what if work was simply a part of life? What if you even enjoyed, looked forward to, and found fulfillment in your work?  Would you want to limit how long you spent in that state?

Now of course, our lives are rich and full of different aspects. It is important, and most people get a great sense of fulfillment from spending time, energy and attention on other things too, like family, friends, health, travel, hobbies, etc. We should make sure we do have time for these activities. But there is inherent danger in separating work from these areas, and viewing it as a negative part of life.

Our recommendation would be to find work that you do enjoy, and is fulfilling, where you are not spending each day watching the clock and measuring, to make sure you give no more than you have to. If you love what you’re doing its not work anyway.

If you look at the people who are very successful in their field of endeavor, whether its business, sports, creative arts, parenting, or anything else, they don’t usually stick to a minimum number of hours. They don’t need to ‘switch off’ afterwards, because they love thinking and talking about their passion.

So, next time you catch yourself talking about ‘work-life balance’, think about this. It’s all ‘life’ – there are 24 hours a day and your life is made up of how you choose to spend your time. I hope you’re doing something you enjoy.

And if you’re a manager, I’m sure you appreciate a team of people who enjoy doing what they do, and are flexible enough to take on some additional responsibilities from time to time, or do some overtime occasionally. And of course, as a manager who is conscious of mental health and wellbeing, you wouldn’t take advantage of that flexibility, and you would appreciate and recognize that person’s contribution.

Author: Emi Golding
Emi-Golding-blog-imageEmmaline (Emi) Golding is a registered psychologist and Director of Psychology for the Workplace Mental Health Institute. With experience both at the frontline and in Senior Management positions within mental health services, Emi is passionate about educating and expanding people’s knowledge of mental health issues, particularly within workplaces. For her own well being, Emi loves to dance and spend time with friends. She also enjoys learning languages and travelling to new and exciting places around the world.

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Pedro with Lucas

A dummy in each hand and one in the mouth – values and the smart manager

Today I’m going to write a different type of blog. Stay with me. I had to share. This morning as I reached into my pocket I felt a weird, clunky thing. I didn’t know what it was but then it hit me, a dummy! My son’s dummy (“pacifier” for our international audience) How cute. It put a smile in my heart. I remembered that my son, Lucas, who is just a little over 2 years old, this morning had lots of dummies. Three to be precise. He had a dummy in each hand and one in his mouth. This morning he had to have all the dummies he could find. I found it interesting because he wasn’t distressed. So, I asked myself, why? and it dawned on me, ‘he just feels good with them’. He feels safe. But not just any kind of safe. These dummies make him feel safe emotionally. So much so that now, he treasures these dummies.He obviously doesn’t need that many dummies but he  appreciates them for what he feels they give him. Safety, peace, balance. Now, obviously the dummies don’t give him these feelings, he creates them out of association. And as a result, he also now feels grateful for the dummies. Lucas VALUES his dummies because, unknowingly, he values how they make him feel.

Pedro Diaz with Lucas DiazNow I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of dummies for babies and children – this isn’t a parenting blog. But it made me think – what about us? Grown ups? Are we any different? Or similar? When most people think of work, their job, how do they feel? Most don’t look forward to going to work. Many even get anxious about going to work, like I did for many years. Why? If we let little people’s experience teach us, it’s because we have not linked the fulfillment of our values with what we do. We don’t think they are linked.

The smart manager will pay attention now. When people feel their values are being met in what they do, they become passionate. They are at peace with themselves. Happy. In short, it’s good for their mental health. Makes sense, right? So why isn’t this happening everywhere? Why aren’t managers helping people link their values to what they do? This is going to make them mentally healthy and more valuable employees, right?

The problem is, most managers don’t know this, and if they do, they don’t know where to start. The values conversation has been relegated to something the company does every couple of years that doesn’t mean much to anyone else but the leadership team. And it’s only a conversation about the company values, not the individual employee’s personal values. That’s what we need to change. We need to make values relevant to all our employees. We need to help them see how the values of the company relate to their individual values. We need to meaningfully engage them in the process of clarifying their own values, the values of the team and the values of the company. And then, the effective leader, will speak of them often. Regularly. Because these values have become your ‘why we do things the way we do around here’.

That makes for good mental health.

By the way, Lucas held onto the dummies until we arrived to childcare. And when we arrive he knows they go in his bag, where he can get them anytime he wants. But he’s usually having too much fun to think about them through the day. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had as much fun at our workplaces as kids do at daycare?

PS if you want help to start a mentally healthy values conversation in your workplace, give me a call and I’ll get my team onto it.

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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true-false

Zen and The Art of Effective Anxiety – 10 Tips To Hold On To Your Anxiety

It’s not always easy to hold onto your anxiety. At times, when you least expect it, a strong feeling of relaxation can come over you. To make matters worse, although anxiety is common, many people out there want to stop you from feeling anxious and uptight. Oh! How much do we love you dear anxiety! The feeling of nervousness, restlessness and discomfort that is caused by some inner storm that does not let us stay in peace. There is absolutely no way in which we would want to steer clear of the path that leads to your home.

If you too love this feeling of uneasiness and discomfort, then we bring 10 tips for you that would help in keeping your beloved anxiety by your side, always.true-false

  • Live in Dreams – This is the best thing that you can do in order to maintain the level of your anxiety. Real fears are far smaller than we imagine them to be. When you plan to stay away from reality and live in a hypothetical world, there is no way in which your stress would lower and your anxiety would go away.
  • Never Face Your Fears – If you don’t see your fears coming, there is no reason why you have to face them. A great way to increase your anxiety is to never face your fears. Running away from stress or social situations that cause anxiety can be a great idea.
  • Never Meditate – Meditation relaxes your mind and also provides you the much needed peace. For holding on to your anxiety, never even think of doing any kind of meditation.
  • Never be social – Being social means spending your time in positive activities around positive people. If you become social, the fear of a gathering will never bother you and this resilience will make your anxiety disappear. Never do that then!

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  • Don’t take responsibility for your problems – There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. If it wasn’t everything and everyone else, your life would be perfect! Remember: Anxiety and stress do not interfere with your personal, professional and social life. Therefore, you don’t have to accept that you have a problem and you don’t even need to make an effort to solve it. So, keep blaming your problems on everything and everyone else and keep telling yourself how great you are.
  • Never Divulge Your Issues To A Confidante – If you talk to people about your fears and your issues or even maintain a log about them, you will never be able to maintain your anxiety. The stress of being with people and talking to them is too much for you to handle. Better be alone and try to be happy with your anxiety.
  • Never believe – whoever tells you that you can get over anxiety is a fool. Don’t trust him. He is just misguiding you.
  • Worst Case Scenario– never think about being ready for the worst case scenario. This would help you in decreasing your anxiety and staying happy. The worst thing you can do for your anxiety is to think of other options.
  • Have unrealistic expectations – whenever you have unrealistic expectations for yourself or for others, you get to increase your anxiety. Why not keep doing it again and again?
  • Don’t get help – anxiety cannot be cured. It is something that you must live with. There is practically no use going to a doctor nor attending a Mental Health First Aid Course. Getting help or treatment would only waste time and money. After all, you are probably the only case in the world that no treatment exists for anyway!
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:
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Jim – Avoid Burnout

Avoiding Professional Burnout

No matter how much you enjoy your job, there are times when pressure or stress can start to take an emotional toll on you, particularly if you are in a service or healthcare related field. It is important to be able to spot the symptoms associated with professional burnout.

Burnout occurs after a prolonged period of stress under which a person feels that their emotional resources are not good enough to endure or overcome the obstacle. This can lead to a feeling of helplessness and a host of emotional and physical symptoms.

Jim - Avoiding professional burnoutLet’s take a look at Jim, for example. Jim is a healthcare professional who is very committed to his job and genuinely cares for the patients he sees on a daily basis. His job is rewarding but he is also often witness to pain, confusion and sadness as his patients are often ill or dying. Jim works long hours and often takes work home with him or comes in on days off just to check in. Over time the emotional strain begins to build up until eventually Jim starts to feel exhausted, unmotivated, and helpless. He starts to experience sleepless nights, jaw clenching, and elevated blood pressure. His family and friends worry that he “isn’t his usually happy self.”

Jim is experiencing burnout caused by prolonged stress that he did not take the time to deal with properly. There are several self-care actions that you can put into place before letting burnout take hold. Self-care is the practice of activities that individuals perform on their own behalf to maintain life, health and well-being. Jim was dedicated to his career and to his patients, but he neglected to take care of his own personal needs.


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You can start by taking the first few minutes of each day and making them about you. Most people rise from their beds at the sound of an alarm clock and immediately start to “work.” They might get dressed, check e-mail, care for a spouse or child and rush out the door quickly. Instead, take the first ten or fifteen minutes of each day for meditation, or reflection. Spend time mentally preparing yourself for the day by focusing on positive thoughts.

Another way to practice self-care is to be mindful of your diet and exercise. Proper nourishment gives us energy and stamina to get through our day. Building a healthy body through wholesome foods and physical activity decreases the chance of sickness, improves sleep and makes us feel happier.

Limit the burdens you place on yourself. Do not take on more than you can reasonably do in a day and enlist the help of people that care about you when you feel overwhelmed. Do not stay connected to your technology all day long, occasionally take a break. It’s alright to be “unreachable” from time to time. Remember that by not focusing on your own needs and your own health you could be impacting your ability to do your job or take care of your loved ones. By practicing self-care you will become healthier, more positive and more focused than ever before. And obviously you can consider attending to our Mental Health First Aid Training where you will learn the signs and symptoms of these mental health problems, where and how to get help, and what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective.

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

  • 7 Fatal Mistakes image
  • Don't make these 7 fatal mistakes with your team.

    As leaders, the decisions we make and how we communicate has a huge influence on the mental health of our team members.

    Discover the 7 fatal mistakes managers make when managing their team that undermine engagement and frustrate performance.