Happy Mental Health Month!

15 October, 2021

It’s mental health month and at Clarity Group’s Clarity Workplace Solutions we are razor focused on the psychological safety of the workforce. Prevention is key and at Clarity we walk the talk….. and talk the walk. We believe that every day should be focused on keeping people mentally fit, healthy and well. For mental health month we have been talking with Dr Paula Robinson, a dear friend and guru in mental fitness and we will be trialling and testing the Applied Positive Psychology Learning Institute WorkFit platform.

 

We’re also super excited about having two guest speakers. Simon Poidevin, former Australian Wallaby’s Rugby Union Captain in 2018 member of the order of Australia for significant service to education through fund raising and student scholarship support to the community through the not for profit sector and to rugby union. Simon is also President of Total Brain Australia and NewZealand, a neuroscience based mental health and brain performance solution.

 

We are also delighted to welcome Adrian Sutter. Adrian Sutter is the founder of Swiss 8 a veteran LED charity that connects people, builds routine and focuses on proactive approaches to staying mentally strong.

 

Mental health month at Clarity will flow into November finishing with a Barbeque to Remember, a national coming together to support conversations about the importance of mental health and wellbeing and why connecting with others and letting them know that you care and offering them some support is so critically important. We have a team and would Love you to join us in providing support to the tribe or enter the incredible raffle where one winner takes ALL.

 

So how big is the problem?

 

Research shows us that one in five Australians live with depression, anxiety, or substance use disorder. Almost half of Australians will experience mental health condition in their lifetime and almost 60% of employees have not spoken to anyone at work about their mental health status. U.S. data from the Mental Health Index a survey that’s conducted by Total Brain, with some of the largest Industries in the world, shows the risk of PTSD (Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder) remains elevated in a pandemic stressed environment. This month, the Mental Health Index, reported another month of elevated PTSD risk in US workers, up 35% since the start of February 2021 and 53% higher than pre-pandemic. Without doubt this is challenging employees’ ability to focus, with the capacity for sustained attention declining a commensurate 53% since the pre pandemic level. Workers who are at risk of PTSD are facing multiple other mental health challenges including a significant negative hit to their cognitive capacities. Due to the high number of workers screening at risk for PTSD, sitting at 17%, employers need to understand that more of their employees may be struggling and in need of additional support. Recognising the multiple dimensions of trauma, integrating trauma into mental health conversations and providing tools to help employees manage distractions and break in-the-moment stresses are all critical at this juncture.

 

Pre-pandemic, each year one in seven primary school students, one in five workers and one in four secondary students experience a mental health problem. Across the lifespan, in Australia we know that mental illness impacts one in two of us. Either you or someone you know will be impacted by mental illness at some point in your life. Post-pandemic we see a mental health system under extreme duress with our front line health care workers suffering significant stress and burn out.

 

Left untreated, or not supported, poor mental health takes a massive toll on the workplace. Last year the Productivity Commission reported that the cost of an unhealthy workplace was $12.8 billion per year and that sick leave, and presenteeism, that is turning up to work but not actually being very present cost $17 billion per year. Workers with severe depression take 20 more sick days per month and Safe Work Australia’s data suggest that 7200 Australians are compensated for work related mental health conditions every year, increasing by 30% per annum, at a direct cost of $530 million.

 

What is wellbeing?

 

So, let’s drill down into what wellbeing is, and what it isn’t. The science of wellbeing is well understood. It’s supported by thousands and thousands of studies internationally and here in Australia… but wellbeing is often confused with happiness. An idea being promoted by the Wellness industry that creates this unrealistic expectation that people can be happy and live in Nirvana 24/7. We know that this simply is not the case. For most people life can be messy, a rollercoaster of ups and downs, highs and lows and different emotional responses to the stresses that make up life. Happiness. Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Boredom – and everything in between.

 

So the definition that I like to use comes from the World Health Organisation ‘a state in which the individual realises his or her own abilities can cope with normal stresses of life can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or their own community’.

 

Add to this the dimensions described by the Wellbeing Institute – a multidimensional model that focuses on key aspects of wellbeing.

 

The physical – how do you nourish a healthy body through sleep activity and nutrition; mental – how do you engage the world through curiosity and creativity pursuits that challenge your brain; emotional – what does it mean to be aware of, accept and express our feelings and understand the feelings of others; spiritual – searching for the meaning and higher purpose in human existence, social – connecting and engaging with others in our communities in meaningful ways ,and environmental – how do we foster positive relationships between people and planet.

 

Which takes us to a new science of ‘well buildings’ and using the built environment to promote wellbeing. Increasingly it is being recognised that air quality, greenspaces, acoustics and the way buildings are structured to promote and build community and enhance movement to promote wellbeing is just as important as the individual pursuit for wellbeing.

 

In any approach we take, we have choices we can be reactionary – wait, diagnose and treat – the medical model. Or we can focus on prevention and promote activities that we can practice to that keep us well.  This public health approach focuses on both the individual and the environment and is multi pronged.

 

The partners we have coming together, and the different tools we are offering our employees all use a strengths based mental fitness approach to improve well-being. Dr Paula Robinson, a clinical psychologist and positive psychology scientist did her PhD on mental fitness and we are particularly excited to use this evidence based approach to prevention for a number of reasons.  First, it helps us to reduce stigma and shift the focus from illness to wellness. Second, it’s a universal language that’s well understood. Third, it helps to promote proactive preventive and holistic approaches to mental health. Fourth, it recognises that a fit mind and body are equally important. Fifth, it allows us to develop evidence based exercises and habits that are sustainable.

 

Four constructs underpin mental fitness, Strength, Flexibility, Endurance and Team, and as a Team at Clarity Workplace Solutions we are on a mission to support employers keep their workforce mentally healthy, safe and well.

 

If you would like more information on working with Clarity Workplace Solutions, and would like to trial or test Total Brain, APPLI or get behind Swiss8 please get in touch via email with jane.burns@yourcall.com.au or the Co-Founder and CEO nathan.luker@yourcall.com.au