The Australian Bureau of Statistics says almost half of us in Australia (45%) have experienced a mental illness at some point in our lives. Could modern workplace demands be an unnecessary contributor to such a startling statistic?
Content producer Jessica Testa explores some of the unique ways Filtered Media approaches stress management and how simple changes can create a more positive work environment.
Workplaces can be a source of mental distress. Safe Work Australia reported as many as 7,200 Australians are compensated for work-related mental health conditions every year.
The key to reducing this number at work is implementing strategies to foster a positive mental health environment.
According to Filtered Media’s managing director and co-founder Heather Jones, there are three critical success factors employers need to consider when developing strategies for a healthy workplace:
- Commitment from leadership
- Employee participation, and
- Ongoing, intentional communication.
“We believe a simple but powerful distinctive to building a positive mental health environment is our systemic focus on understanding each person’s innate personal and professional strengths, then using that information to shape their roles and individual goals,” Heather says.
Everyone relaxes in different ways and what works for one employee might not work for another. By recognising when they are stressed and taking action to relieve their anxiety before it gets to boiling point, employees can take control of their own mental health.
This is often easier said than done, which is why Filtered Media came together as a team to share what they personally do, in the hope to inspire someone else who might be struggling to find a relaxation technique that works for them.
Here are 5 ways members of the Filtered Media team manage their stress and anxiety in the office:
“I like to go for a run, or do something physical to get my heart rate going!” – Liz Barrett, Content Manager + Storyteller
Engaging in any form of physical activity, from going to the gym to doing some yoga, can help you relax by releasing endorphins. Getting physical has a range of other benefits that also contribute to relieving stress, such as improving sleep and increasing your concentration. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout if that’s not your cup of tea. Try going for a walk around the block on your lunch break and take the opportunity to breathe in some fresh air.
“I’d treat myself to something I wouldn’t normally have during the week, like hot chips!” – Dylan Hayley Rosenthal, PR & Social Assistant + Storyteller
Showing yourself some compassion, in the same way that you would a friend or colleague, can have positive effects on your mental health. Treating yourself to the little pleasures in life from time to time could be exactly what you need to get you out of your slump. They act as little reminders of the hard work you do, which is often what you need when you are stressed out about a specific project or your workload. Giving yourself that pat on the back could be the motivation you need to keep going.
“Deep breathing honestly works. Breathing in as I count to four, hold for two, out for six, and repeat. It makes me immediately feel calmer.” – Heather Jones, Managing Director + Co-founder
Deep breathing is one a lot of professionals will suggest to use during times when anxiety is high. Paying attention to the present moment can reduce the tension in your muscles. This simple technique is one you can do at your desk while taking a short break from your screen.
Speaking to a loved one
“My dad is my go-to. He has the ability to shift my perspective and always leaves me with an action plan on how to deal with whatever it is that’s causing my anxiety.” – Emily Nowland, Senior PR Manager + Storyteller
Sometimes talking to someone else is all you need to get the anxiety out of your system. Whether it’s a parent, partner or friend, having someone act as a sounding board and listen to your problem can help you find a solution or, at the very least, simply put all the anxious thoughts you’re having out in the open.
Check your priorities
“When I’m feeling overwhelmed by too many responsibilities, I take a quiet moment to check over my priorities. This helps me to put things into perspective and be productive, rather than being frozen by stress.” – Charlotte Goodwin, Content Manager + Storyteller
Sitting at your desk with a stack of unread emails and requests coming in left, right and centre can be overwhelming. Check your priorities and think about what you can feasibly achieve in a given time period. Write down your list in order of urgency and work through them. Seeing it all written in a neat list can make today’s tasks seem easier to manage than you once thought.
While employees can find their own mental health management techniques, employers have a duty of care and can benefit from fostering a positive mental health environment.
Filtered Media has a number of initiatives other employers might consider offering as part of a proactive approach to creating a positive and healthy work environment. positive
“There are systemic things employers can do like funding mental health days, flexible working hours, four-day work weeks, and rostered “time off the tools” to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, Odd Socks Day, National Cupcake Day, or whatever it may be,” Heather says.
“Filtered Media offers YOLO days, or two fully paid days per year to celebrate the fact “You Only Live Once”. Team members can spontaneously take one to do anything they like, from making the most of the sunshine, catching up with friends or family members who are also not at work, or reading a book.”
Putting a focus on mental health in the workplace can also benefit employers in various ways. Ensuring your company has a mental health scheme in place can improve employee productivity and engagement. Businesses could also see a return on their investment in mental health with PwC reporting “an average of $2.30 in benefits.”
The good news is that Australian workers overwhelmingly believe that a mentally healthy workplace is as important as a physically healthy one – we just need to work on making mentally-healthy work environments a reality.
Heather encourages colleagues to look out for each other in times of need and use simple acts of kindness to remind others of the light at the end of the tunnel: “Simple things like noticing if a colleague is not doing so well, asking after them, making them laugh, or making them a cup of tea can make a world of difference to someone.”
This Mental Health Month, ask yourself the question: what does your workplace do to create a more mentally healthy environment, and how you can help make it even better
If you are struggling with mental health issues and need confidential crisis support, call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14. If someone’s life is in immediate danger, call 000.
Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can contact Lifeline. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation their trained volunteers are ready to listen, provide support and referrals.