One in five Australians will experience a mental health issue during their lifetime, the most common being depression and anxiety.
The good news about depression and anxiety is that they are treatable and help is at hand. Businesses across Canberra are participating in National Mental Health Month by holding events and staff initiatives aimed at dispelling the stigma around mental health issues, ensuring healthy work habits, and encouraging people to seek help if they are experiencing distress.
The legal industry is notorious for long working hours, and Snedden Hall & Gallop is actively encouraging staff to take some time out for their mental health. The legal firm has concluded a month of activities centred on self-care, using activities to highlight the importance of thinking about mental health, taking time to communicate and exercise.
“One of the challenges for the legal industry is the hours we work,” says Snedden Hall & Gallop’s commercial and marketing manager, Sam Irvine. “There are so many other industries where the first thing you hear is, ‘I’m just too busy,’ but we wanted people to find half an hour in their day – even the busiest people in our office – to take time out for self-care.
“Back when I first started working in a different industry, it was such a big deal to take a ‘mental health day’, but now it’s seen as being proactive, and we understand it as being a responsible thing to do.”
Monaro Windows’ Dan Posch says he is ensuring his 60-70 staff members know about the campaign, and how to find help if needed.
“We’ve been working with the OzHelp Foundation, reminding staff that it is National Mental Health Month,” he says. “OzHelp has come in and done some tradie tune-ups just to make sure our staff are aware of the things they need to keep on top of.
“It’s definitely something we promote and support, and we have great support in OzHelp. It’s important to us and to me personally.”
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Effective People’s Kris Milne knows how a mental health issue can escalate, and he encourages his staff and contractors to seek support should they experience anxiety or depression.
“We have our office staff here and we also have to reach our contractors, who are also our employees,” he says. “We make sure they know how to access our employee assistance scheme, and our health and wellbeing section.
“Exercise, even just a walk, can help when you’re feeling down – it creates clarity of mind, and playing sport, being active and around the people who know you the best helps.”