This session delves into the stigma of mental health - and suicide prevention for at-risk industries.
Panellists Darius Boyd and Justin Geange share some insight into their own mental health journey, what it takes to talk about mental health issues and how to take the initial steps towards recovery. They are joined by Connie Galati, Senior Clinical Psychologist from the APS, who shares insight into workforce literacy, capability and expertise in mental health and suicide prevention including learnings from their APS Mental Health Capability Framework.
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Good morning everyone. I'm Mark Oostergo, and I'll be your MC for today. Welcome to the third Mental Health Week livestream session for 2022. I'd like to begin by respectfully acknowledging the traditional custodians on the land of which we are speaking to you from today and on which you are learning and working from today. I'd also like to pay respects to elders past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are may be watching today. Mental Health Week is held nationally every October to raise awareness of the importance of psychologically safe and healthy workplaces, and contributes to driving behavior and attitudinal change to reduce stigma and discrimination of mental ill health. I think those of you who are joining us all throughout this week, in today's session, we are talking about mental health, about lived experiences, how to start the conversation, listen and connect, and from a workplace per perspective, also talk about the prevention of suicide for at risk industries and building capability literacy and expertise in mental health and suicide prevention.
Today's content could get a bit heavier at times, and maybe a trigger for some viewers. So I ask that if you do experience a physical or emotional reaction to any of the content you hear today, please consider employing self care strategies that you typically find helpful. Connect with a peer or manager contact your employee assistance service provider, or regular treating health professional support channels and numbers will be placed in the chat box as well as on screen. I'm very pleased to introduce you to three amazing speakers today. Firstly, we have Justin Geange. Justin is a mates in construction field officer, mental health and a mental health and suicide prevention advocate and lived experienced speaker. Justin empowers and educates people on how to notice if someone is doing it tough, how to start that conversation, listen and connect them through to services that can help. He shares his stories of his struggle, hope, and wellbeing with the likes of mates in construction,RUOK, Movember, Suicide Prevention Australia, Virgin Australia, and New Zealand, BHP, Bristol, Men's Shed Australia, Queensland Rail, Pacific National Rail Corp, Vic Rail, Adelaide Metro, and a whole host of other organizations, sporting clubs and charities in Australia. Welcome today Justin. Joining us remotely from Canberra is Connie Galati. Connie is a senior clinical psychologist with the APS Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Unit at the Australian Public Service Commission. She's the lead author of Compassionate Foundations and Upstream Suicide Prevention Capability Suite, designed specifically for Australian public servants. Prior to working in the Australian Public Service, Connie worked extensively in ACT, New South Wales and WA State Health Services, including community and inpatient mental health and drug and alcohol services, workforce capability and specialist mental health service design. Connie has a special interest in psychological trauma and mental health in disaster settings. She's led initiatives to support the mental health and wellbeing of individuals and communities post disasters and emergencies.
Most recently overseeing the ACTs Covid 19 Mental Health and Wellbeing Community program and supporting the Canberra and New South Wales South Coast communities during the 1920 Bush fires. Also, joining us today is Darius Boyd. Darius played rugby league at the highest level for 15 years. However, however, midway through his career after several years of mental struggle, he made the brave decision to check into a mental health facility. Darius has since been working on himself and promoting proactive mental wellbeing within the corporate and community spaces. He is currently studying a diploma in counselling, a certificate for an elite athlete wellbeing. Darius, thanks for joining us here today. The, as always, there'll be an opportunity to ask questions of our panellists. So I ask that as we work through the presentations this morning, that you please put your questions into the chat box, given we do have a number of speakers. I ask that you please direct who you'd like that question to go to so that we can get the appropriate person to answer. I'd now like to hear off today's proceedings by inviting Justin up to share his story.
Thanks, mate, hearing that introduction makes me look forward to hearing myself speak. Actually, it's good. I too want to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land in which we meet, pay my respects to elders past, present, and emerging. I also want to acknowledge the artwork that I'm wearing over here. It was a gift to the mates team from the Lara Kere Nation of the Northern Territory. Um, this artwork is titled Living Longer, Living Stronger, and, and they thought there was a crow correlation between what we do at Mates in Construction and, and the message of that artwork. So thankful again to the Lara Kere people. I also want to acknowledge those on the call that, have a lived or living experience of suicidality. I myself have had a lived experience of suicidality since my first hospital admission as a 13 year old.
I'm now 50, so I'll let you do the maths. I also want to acknowledge those on this call. It's Mental Health Week this week. but those on the call who identify as having a diagnosis of mental ill health. I too have a, a mental health diagnosis of bipolar type two. I'm not defined by my diagnosis, but it certainly does make up a part of who I am and why I do what I do. and what I do is, is pretty simple. I'm, I'm a plumber by trade, a father of one. That's all I can afford. And father of two, actually the second one will be a little bit upset by, by that. Husband of one. But what we do at Makes in construction is a pretty simple program. We were very fortunate back in 2021 to be acknowledged by the World Health Organization as the world's best practice in industry based suicide prevention.
What we know in our industry is that we cop a bad rap. They say that we don't talk, they say a lot of things about what we do in our industry. And so when Mates first came about in 2006, our commitment wasn't to look so much at the deficit of our industry, but some of the strengths, and it was from that strength based approach that we actually help people day in, day out who might be struggling with suicide. I might be struggling with circumstances or, or even mental health. And so I’m going to share a little bit today about what that process is. In our industry, we do one thing really well. Mates help mates is what we do. We look after each other, you know, if someone's lost their license, we'll pick 'em up and drive them to work.
If, if someone's moving house, we'll bring our Ute. So it's help offering now for, for a very long time across the planet. The way we talk about suicide,we talk about, hey, if you're struggling, if you're doing it tough, put your hand up. Now, I know firsthand how tough that is, and we know in our industry how tough that can be for someone to put their hand up when they're struggling. So we draw on the strengths of our industry, which is all about help offering. And we start to talk about how do we offer our mates help if we know someone's going through stuff. And, you know, it's not all about having a mental illness. Sometimes circumstances just jump up and bite us. And so if we know our mate, our friend, our family members going through some stuff, financial hardship or relationship breakdown or, you know, circumstantial sort of stuff, and then we start to notice some changes in them.
They start to do things differently, you know, where, where they're quite happy or singing or dancing or whatever, and then all of a sudden they're quiet and, and withdrawn into a corner. So we start to notice some of these things. Um, you know, we start to notice people, you know, doing things they don't usually do, saying stuff that they don't usually say. You know someone who's, you know, oh, a glass half full type person, and all of a sudden, you know, what's the point? I don't even want a glass anymore. So we start to listen, we start to hear and sometimes it's just simply our gut as well, saying, Hey, you know, we live beside people. We've worked beside people. We know sometimes when someone's on, we know when they're off. And so it's about utilizing all those things that we've noticed to call your mate out on it.
Look at, you know, in society in life, we call each other out on stuff all the time. I used to be the Brisbane Broncos mascot for 20 years, and you reckon every time I was out there at Suncorp, people weren't calling me out on the team I was supporting. Believe it or not, not everyone was at Broncos supported the Broncos. Who can believe that? But anyway, so we call each other out on stuff all the time. We call each other out on the haircuts. We got any mullets in the room team, you know, we call each other out on the cars we drive. We just had Bathurst and I saw very two distinct colors there at Bathurst from the supporters. So we do that daily. And so what we say at Mates is, you know, notice if your mate's gone through something, you're seeing some changes, mate, that's not like you, you're hearing some changes.
That's not like you and your gut saying, there's something going on here. Call them out on it, mate, you're doing that. You're saying that that's not like you, what's going on? Do what we've been taught to do in society's, call each other out on the stuff we notice. It's as simple as that. And then, look as I said, I'm just a dodgy old plumber from Logan. So, I'm not here to fix, as a plumber, I fix stuff usually the stuff I've broken, but as a mate, you know, worried about another mate, that's not my time to, to fix. And so we say, we listen to understand, not listen to respond. You know, the difference between understanding responding are two different things. So we listen to understand and, and let them justify, you know, there's, there's a reason why I've noticed you're doing this stuff that's not like you, So they're going to want to justify, you know, why they're feeling, how they're feeling.
And once they've told their story, we're going “Man I'm really sorry”. That sounds really tough. I can't imagine, you know, going through all those sort of things. So we listen to understand and we listen without judgment, not trying to fix, not trying to solve. And then we go, Man there's some amazing people out there that you know, let's hook you up with someone that can actually help you right now. Maybe strategize to get you through what you're going through. Maybe a counselor, you know, call the mates help line. We can call Lifeline Beyond Blue. So many different services out there. I know we've got Connie, I'm looking forward to hearing Connie very shortly. So we've got so many amazing people that we can connect them to. And, and that's what we do. We don't solve that problem.
We connect them to the help that is available. And, and the little catch cry in my head is, you know nothing about me without me. So I offer up some suggestions, but I'll let them make the choice. Because at the end of the day, when someone makes that choice on where that help's going to come from, they're more likely to follow through with that help. And so then we play the mates test. We, you know, we, we don't go, here's a number, Good luck with that. We go, How about I make the call for you? My boss did that for me. I'm here today because of bloke said, Hey, I dunno what to do, but I can make a call and I'll do it with you in the room. And so that's what we encourage you to do, You know notice stuff, you know, get listen with without judgment, listen to understand, and then encourage that action.
And then, we always check in, you know, How did that go for you? Did it work? It was, I've been on many a construction site, I've talked to many people and said, Oh, I tried that once now, but we don't throw the baby out with the bath. Or I've got another saying, you know, if I have a bad pizza, I don't stop eating pizza, I go to a different pizza shop. And so what we say here is fed in income. You know, if that didn't work, I've been under counseling for over 33 years myself and not every counselor that I've seens been the right fit for me. So we try something different, we check in and we encourage that if that is working. But if it's not, let's try and find something else for you. That's what I want my mates to do for me, and that's what I like to do for our, my mates as well.
So those are, those are the four steps that, that we go through day in, day out, that's keeping people on the planet, but more importantly, keeping families together, keeping this process going. Now, as I said, I have a mental illness. So one of the things that brings me joy is my family. I absolutely love my girls and my wife. But another thing that, that's been keeping me well of late is, um, poetry. And, and so I, I've been writing poems for about two years now. And, and one of the poems I've written is basically all about why I do what I do and, and what the steps are. So I'm gonna pass it on to you now. And it's called “Why”.
Some people often ask me, some people even stare and ask me, What's the deal, my mate?
Why is it that you care? Well, I tell them, plain and simple cuz it's all I've got to give. I'm doing this for a mate who's struggled life to live. I'm doing this for the champion whose relationship's gone bust. I'm doing this with a legend who's Brad's run outta crust. You see, we all from time to time fall down when life gets tough, we stomp our feet and smash our fists and say enough's enough. But that's the time to notice, time to activate and take a stand. That's the time to shine my friend. Lift your mate up by the hand. 10 seconds of courage is all it takes to help your brother out to say you've noticed changes, mate, what's that all about? Then listen with understand and ain't no room for judgment here. Next, encourage action. Share that load and show your care. Or I know too well that heartache.
I've tried that rocky path. I've lost too many mates in Ken. I know the aftermath. So that is why I care my friend. That is why I talk to keep my brothers on the planet. I do my best to walk the walk. They don't have a lot to offer, no real smarts to make a mark, but have got two flame and floppy ears. One large marshmallow heart to all who've been impacted to those with tears, stained eyes. A virtual hug, I send your way. Please know the sun will rise. So to you, my mate, my friend, my Powell. Here's a challenge just for you. Do what you can with your two hands. You may just help a few. That's the message of mates. That's my heart, that's my passion, that's my purpose. Every single one of us can make a difference by noticing the people in our circle. Every one of us can reach someone. So who will you reach today? Who will you check in on today? Who will you make a difference with and connect today? Thanks for that, Chester.
Justin, thank you so much for sharing those tips, to have those kind of checking conversations. You know, I definitely took some things from that, I guess those tips, you know, that ability to call people out and, you know, ask the question, notice those differences and, and notice those changes in behavior listening to understand, which is such a tough skill. I know, like I spent six years at uni learning how to listen, and my wife tells me every day that I don't. So I think, you know, it's such an important thing to be present with people, connecting them in with the appropriate services and, and support and checking in on them and making sure it's working. I think really helpful tips and to put that all into an amazing piece of poetry is absolutely phenomenal. Thank you so much. We're now going to hand over to Connie who's joining us virtually from Canberra. Connie's going to talk to us about the Australian public service suicide prevention framework and the great work that she's been doing in this space. Welcome this morning, Connie.
Thank you for the warm welcome. It's a real pleasure to be here. So, as Mark said, I'll be sharing some insights about the development of a suicide prevention capability initiative and some of the broader work our unit is leading to build the mental health capability of the Australian Public Service.
So, Compassionate Foundations is the Australian Public Services Suicide Prevention e-learning program. It was authored by our unit, specifically for staff working in government. The main catalyst for the development of this program came from the final advice from the then National Suicide Prevention Advisor. She caught out the need to increase the suicide prevention capability of the public sector workforce. And as part of this advice, 3000 people with a lived and living experience of suicidal distress attempts and bereavement gave their insights into what that capability should look like. They spoke about the need to build compassionate and connected communities who are equipped and able to respond to early signs of distress. With these principles in mind, suicide prevention becomes a skill set for everyone, not just for clinical or frontline workers. So we took this community perspective and applied it to the development of compassionate foundations in the understanding that our aps workplaces can play a significant role in providing a touchstone of connection and a sense of belonging that may in fact reduce suicidal distress for people.
But despite the program being branded as suicide prevention, it offers so much more. We have six modules focused on core skills and concepts that promote understanding of trauma informed engagement, psychological and suicidal distress, compassion and connection, as well as first nations social and emotional wellbeing, with the understanding that one of the key drivers of suicide is disconnection. The program takes an early intervention approach by focusing on the relational investments we can make before distress occurs, not only in the workplace, but also in our personal lives. All those things that Justin mentioned in his talk, uh, noticing, listening, connecting, and if needed, providing that warm referral onwards. Our program was released in February of this year, and our unit is supporting APS agencies to personalize their rollouts, their individual workforces. Uh, we've had a lot of positive feedback. Participants have very much appreciated the program's broad applicability and appeal. They've told us that the program is highly relevant to every single APS worker. One of the key pieces of feedback we are receiving is related to the program's ability to convey complex information in simple yet effective ways. So let's see what we mean by that. I'd like to show you an example of a concept featured in the program. It's called BID for Connection, and is fundamentally about those micro invests we can make, uh, in our relationships in order to keep connected.
Psychologist, Dr. John Godman describes a concept known as turn towards instead of a way he found one thing that people with more healthy, more connected relationships did better. They tuned in to bids for connection. So what is a bid for connection? A bid for connection is any attempt made towards another person where you are seeking a positive connection. For the most part, these bids are really simple, like a smile, a sigh, showing interest or asking for help. Recognizing a bid and turning towards it opens the door for meaningful connection. If we miss a bid, we end up turning away from the chance to connect. If we constantly miss the bids offered to us, it may mean that people stop trying to connect. It comes back to the idea that to pay attention means we care. We all want to feel valued and heard. Of course, there's always going to be those days where we are not able to tune in as much, but by learning to tune in and turn towards bids for connection, we can create working relationships that are healthier, respectful, attentive, trusting, and more collaborative.
I still get shivers when I watch that . One thing we noticed about suicide prevention is this topic makes a lot of people nervous. Generally, we found this is because people don't want to do the wrong thing. And there's this idea that it's better to do nothing than to do harm, but unfortunately, what we know is avoiding the topic is also unhelpful and potentially harmful. So we looked at Compassionate Foundations as a change initiative for the aps. And with that in mind, I have two specific strategies to share with you that we implemented to help address this uncertainty. The first is leveraging the wisdom of lived experience. Each of our six modules features a five minute video that shares the stories of eight people with a lived experience of suicidal distress. The stories were edited together by a professional story editor to emphasize key learnings for the specific module.
While these living wisdoms may be difficult to hear at times, these very real, very human stories provide a bridge for people to foster a personal connection to the content and build empathy. This, in turn, helps participants consolidate their learnings and to update their thoughts, feelings, and behavior about suicide prevention. And we are finding that participants agree the Living Wisdom videos are by far considered the most compelling aspect of the program, creating that lasting impression that we're after, well after the program is completed, we are finding that the wisdom is translating into the belief that we all have a role to play in suicide prevention.
The second strategy related to how the program may be perceived by staff at agencies. So one of the early challenges we identified was the need to sell suicide prevention to an industry that, for the most part was not as traditionally associated with suicide prevention. And that kind of makes sense. You know, unless you work in a health-related industry or high risk industry or have a lived experience, you may not have considered that you or your workplace has a role to play in suicide prevention. Our strategy for motivating staff engagement was informed by a social identity perspective. This perspective looks beyond the individual drivers of behavior change and focuses on how groups shape our behavior. We feel we're a part of the group when we have a shared connection, values, vision, and norms. When we strongly identify with a group's identity, we are more likely to act in ways that achieve the group's desired goals and vision.
So for this initiative, we needed to introduce a new vision to our APS workforce. One where staff believed that they all had a role to play in suicide prevention. To do this, we needed to identify the social identity that would motivate staff. So during the program's development, we convened a group of APS staff and asked what makes up a public servant community? And there was the answer in the question, What drives many people to become public Servants is our service to people, to our communities. Thus, the lens in which suicide prevention would become everyone's business was to identify as being a member of a community. Whatever that community is, this community perspective is heavily promoted in the content of the course and its promotion. And then naming this community identity for our staff. We're empowering our workforce to be able to shift their thinking and act in a space where previously they either didn't act, didn't feel capable to act or were permitted to act.
So our unit wants to support the APS to build their suicide prevention capability, and in doing so, invest in building a suicide prevention culture. As we said, as I said, a culture where everyone in the APS believes they have a role to play in suicide prevention and can go on to skilfully act to support someone. But we all know that training courses alone are not a panacea for a culture change. We cannot focus on individual capability to the exclusion of collective capability and the required organizational enablers. One of the key functions of our team is to support federal government agencies to build their mental health and suicide prevention capability by aligning their practices to the APS mental health capability framework. The framework represents an evidence informed and systems based approach to building capability. It was developed following an extensive review into the APS workforce mental health capability.
And this review included over 16,000 APS staff, as well as consultation with academic experts. The framework is designed to provide an overarching APS architecture that agencies can build from to strengthen their capability while remaining flexible and adaptable to their agency's specific needs. And so in this sense, we are promoting a one APS approach, but not a one size fits all approach. As you can see, the framework is underpinned by six domains and as a systems based approach, what this means is an investment in each of these domains is what will drive a transformation of practice. Finally, as the circle represents, this is a continuous improvement approach with the level of investment made in each of the domains expected to change over time. And this depends on an agency's level of maturity, their psychosocial risk profile, any organizational priorities in any given improvement cycle.
So why take a systems based approach to building workforce mental health and suicide prevention capability in practice? What we're saying is that we can't build true capability by simply applying a mental health literacy course in isolation. In having a framework, agencies can better assess and understand the needs of their workforce. This is critical because if we really want to derive behavioral change, we also need to consider things like job design, psychosocial role-based challenges, evaluation of initiatives, as well as consider recovery pathways back into the work. It's the systems-based approach and the continual systematic monitoring of our maturity of practice against the domains that supports the development of a robust mental health system within our workplaces using compassionate foundations. As an example, we didn't release and forget the program. We looked closely at implementation science and how we can best support agencies to embed the required enablers to support staff to deploy their new learnt skills.
These enablers will differ agency to agency. That could include anything from policies and procedures related to responding to staff vulnerable to suicide, to creating safe spaces for conversations about mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention. Our unit recently facilitated structured conversations with some of our teams with the focus has been discussing how that particular team would like to personalize, how they would implement the skills for their group. And just like sometimes you need someone to accompany you on a walk in order to motivate you to go so to can putting the onus on a group or a team make this change feel more achievable in driving a culture change and capability shifts. Our experience has found that staff and agencies need practical tools that give people understanding and direction By providing a roadmap via the capability framework and simplifying complex information into tangible actions, our unit is supporting agencies to look at and invest in the whole picture.
Culture change though is a long road. It requires continuous review, ongoing momentum and investment from staff and leaders at all levels. It's about finding ways to lean into the complexity and being creative with the solutions. So that brings me to the end. I do want to acknowledge there is a lot more depth to some of the approaches I've discussed today. And so if you're interested in knowing more, please don't hesitate to reach out to our unit. Our email address is on the screen as well as a QR code to our webpage. And I hope that brief insight into our workplace suicide prevention journey helps those of you listening with your own.
Thank you Connie. Thanks so much for sharing the great work that's being done there for the Australian Public Service. You know, a couple of things that really stuck out for me was the, the inclusion of lived experience in the training and, and those stories of people's, uh, experiences in the past. The fact that, you know, you've really drawn on that what's in it for me piece and, and that connection with the sense of community and, and to me that really, you know, I kind of got, she was listening to that around why are we doing this? And actually the criticality and the importance of it from a, an industry perspective. And I think the other thing that really stuck out for me was that it, whilst, you know, raising mental health literacy and and capability is important, it's only one piece of the puzzle. And that has to sit within a, a broader systems based approach and really looking at how other aspects of the work is designed. And I think that nests quite nicely with Mental Health Week and the upcoming release of the Code of practice in Queensland for psychosocial risk management. So thank you so much for those insights. I'd now like to take the opportunity to welcome Darius to the stage to talk about his experiences and share his story. Welcome Darius.
Uh, thank you. Nice to be here this morning, in the middle of mental health week. And share the stage with some, you know, great speakers in Justin and Connie as well. This morning I just want to talk a little bit about, my journey, my lived experience with my own mental health, uh, mental illness and then just some, I guess rest factors we need to be mindful of, look out for and then some, you know, important effective self care strategies that we can do in our everyday lives to make sure that, you know, we are being the best versions of ourselves and living a happy and healthy lifestyle. So a bit about my journey, I guess. Um, born and raised at the Gold Coast, only child growing up. Um, not a lot of family support around, and never met my father.
Uncle and grandfather passed away at an early age. So I guess for me, not having those father figures, role models, mentors, people in my life that, you know, are really, really important, to give you those foundations growing up. It's something that I really, really struggled with in my later teens and in my early adult years. Um, but I made it work. It was my mom and my grandmother did a great job. Uh, but when I was 15, my mom was diagnosed with major depression. So for me, it's something that almost 20 years ago now, it took time for me to really understand and comprehend her challenges and what she was going through. But it wasn't until I went through my mental health journey that I could really realize the challenges she was facing and be there and help her with some support.
So after that, in 2014 I checked myself into a mental health facility. I think from the years of challenges through my childhood and some things I hadn't really dealt with, uh, I needed to put my hand up and get professional help. Uh, for me it was something that I'd been seeing a psychologist and a counsellor for two, three years previous. But in the amongst of my busy schedule, you know, an hour a month to talk about in my mind 10 different challenges I was going through. I really needed some professional help and I needed to take a, you know, a break out of my life. So I checked myself into a mental health facility. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I did it at 27 years of age. I wish I did it when I was 17.
Um, but learned so many different things there and some of the things that Justin and Connie have already mentioned. But my life has really, really turned around and that's my goal and passion, I guess, moving forward, given me a drive and a purpose to hopefully be able to change the lives of others and give that meaning and purpose into others and fulfill their lives in a way that it should be fulfilled. So for me, something that is really, really was challenging, , but I've got a lot out of and something that I've been able to move forward and, and be really proud of moving forward since. Um, so just to, I guess to talk on a little bit about some risk factors, some things that I was going through and some things to look out for. Um, you know, risk factors such as, you know, loss of job, financial hardship, trauma, loss of loved ones, bullying, social media today is very, very present and a hard thing that we have to deal with.
A lot of different risk factors, a lot of things that we go through, you know, in daily, weekly life that, uh, we're all going to have to comprehend, understand, and have some different ways we can move forward through them as well. But I guess on the point of that is with those risk factors becomes, also comes as signs and symptoms. So obviously these are big, you know, life events, some of these things, different transition transitions and challenges in life. But what's some signs and symptoms that we might see? And I know Justin mentioned a lot of those, things like loss of appetite, you know, changes in mood, poor concentration, lack of motivation, isolation, withdrawal from friends and activities. There's a lot of different signs, symptoms, and things to look out for. So, when some of these risk factors do come along, these are some of the signs and symptoms you might see.
For myself personally, being a rugby league player and being playing on national stage, your performance was critiqued at the highest level. And that really was something that I had found challenging to deal with. I started to isolate myself , I wasn't spending as much time with family and friends, wasn't connecting. I was reading, you know, social media and mainstream media as well. All these different things that were leading to my mental wellbeing not being the where it should be, and putting my myself in a space that I needed to get some professional help. So there's some risk factors, some signs and symptoms that you might see to look out for and be mindful of as well. So on that, there's some strategies. So what are some strategies that you can do to prevent or probably proactive around, um, some of those risk factors to make sure that you're building up a really good space, that then when these do challenges do arise, that you're well equipped to deal with them and you're bouncing back to be the best version of yourself as quickly as possible.
So I always talk about five different strategies, things that I learned in the mental health facility, things that I've worked on, that really helped me and have really helped me moving forward that I've implemented, not just in the facility but out of as well. So the first one was gratitude. So writing three things down, you're grateful for each and every day, and doing that for at least three weeks. Talking about creating a habit, breaking a habit, you know, writing things down that you're grateful for can really, really help you achieve that. It might be turning your, your mindset from maybe negative, confused, maybe a fixed mindset into really a growth mindset and a positive outlook. So, you know, writing a gratitude journal, even writing a gratitude letter to someone's been really impactful in your life, and can really be beneficial for you.
Uh, so practicing gratitude's a great strategy. Uh, the next one and comment, Connie mentioned it was empathy. So that was a big one for me. Knowing you're a good person, feeling good inside, having a good heart. Um, you could call it compassion, meaning and purpose. There's different ways you can, you can frame it, but you know, doing something for somebody else gives you a really, really good feeling inside. And, it's something that I wanted to achieve, not just in the facility, but moving forward, past that as well. Something I wanted to implement that might be things like, charitable giving, random acts of kindness, volunteering, even just buying your friend to coffee, asking your mate if they're okay, merging traffic as long as they give you a wave back. Um, but make sure you know, you merging traffic little ways you can just show a gesture to somebody else is a really good strategy.
And like I said, not just for what you're doing for them and helping them, but just as important as helping yourself in internal insight as well. So empathy, meaning, and purpose. Compassion is a great strategy. The next one's support. That's something that I really had to grow my support network. How healthy relationships, something for me growing up lost a lot of my family support from different challenges. So I really had to grow my support network. It can be mentors, you know, father figures, role models. It might be, you know, guidance counsellors. It might be work colleagues, it might be professional help too. Psychologists, counsellors, mindset coaches. Just people you can trust and count on. Like I said, for me it's something that I had to do. I had to really grow my support network. I really feel like I’m in a really great space now, I don't have a mom and dad and know some, some of those people around to be my support network.
But I want to grow those people in different people I've really looked up to and respected and have my best interests at heart. So if you have a similar situation to me, similar story, then maybe you need to grow your support network and look out for some of those people. And like I said professional support can definitely be some of those as well. Next one's exercise. You know, for me personally as an athlete for 15 years, I probably took exercise for granted. But exercise doesn't have to be playing a team sport, you know, it can be as simple as walking the dog, you know, going to walk down to get local coffee. It might be parking at work and just, you know, parking a little bit further and walking into work. It might be taking the stairs instead of the lifts.
There's different ways that you can practice and, and get your steps moving and practice exercise. Um, I'm retired now from rugby league so I don't get paid to exercise anymore. So exercise is definitely part of my strategy moving forward to improve my overall wellbeing plan and being the best version of myself. And exercise is another great strategy as well. And then the last one's mindfulness. You know, when I was in the facility, it was in Sydney. We worked on yoga, meditation, breath work. There is a lot of apps in the app store you can get that have a lot of these different types of training and things that you can implement. But mindfulness is just there to be, you know, remind yourself to get back in the present moment in the here and now focus on the task at hand.
Sometimes in life when we have stress and pressure, whether at work or at home, we're always preoccupied with those thoughts and feelings and emotions. So sometimes practice some mindfulness strategies can really just get you back into the here and now and in the present moment. So those five things, those are some of the things that I practice and worked on in the facility. But just as importantly had to work on, on the outside when I left the facility as well. Because understanding those strategies are really, really important. But be able to implement them into your daily, weekly, monthly routine, in amongst your work life. And everything else we have going on is really the, the art of those strategies. So the last part of that, I guess was talked about an action plan. So when I left the facility, what's my action plan?
What I wanted to achieve when I left, three years, five years, tomorrow. What's some of the strategies I wanted to implement and how I was going to do that moving forward? And we worked on three things as a wellbeing goal, a family goal, and a work goal. So my wellbeing goal to work on some of those strategies, the first three in particular for me around gratitude, empathy, and my support network. I really needed help with those main ones in particular. I really needed to grow them and move and work towards them. And that's something that I did. My next thing was my work goal. What was my work goal originally was not to return to rugby league. You know, for me at the time, rugby league was part of my undoing. It was part of the challenge, high pressure situation that wasn't really doing me justice.
I had rugby league as number one, and family and friendships and everything else, number two, and obviously that's the wrong way to have things. So I needed to have a break from rugby league, a break from work, refocus work on some of the strategies and things I've learned and to implement them and hopefully move forward. And then when I could return to work in rugby league, that hopefully I'll be more grounded away from it so I could hopefully be a bit of a performer on the footy field. And then the last one was my family goal. So connecting with my family. I lost con contact with my mother for eight years, like I said earlier understanding her challenges. When I was a 15 year old boy, I really didn't understand, and became closed off quite resentful, anger, sadness, a lot of different emotions and, but I really needed my mom back in my life.
I needed to reconnect with her. It was one of my biggest goals leaving the clinic around family. It was reconnect with my mom, understanding her challenges, being part of her life again. And I guess going to close that chapter in my mind to really have my mom and my family back. And that was one of my other goals as well. So that was some of the goals that I had to work on. A bit of an action plan for yourself. You know, having plans, having things written down is ways you can achieve them and it helps you, um, keep yourself on focus and on point to what you want to achieve and where you want to move forward as well. And then lastly, just some other great resources. You can get some, you know, great information and do some great things in the mental health and wellbeing space.
These are only a select few, but you know, mental health, first aid training, a lot of training and awareness around mental illness, mental health, signs and symptoms, how to run a conversation, RUOK day. We all heard of that before obviously, right? A lot of the different events and the different things that are going on live. Do a lot of stuff around merchandise and other great things. Raising awareness and school based programs as well. Lifeline, Beyond Blue, Black Dog, a couple other ones where you can get a lot of information, professional support. There's lived experience, there's forums, there's different ways you can get support and reach out. And leaving you on this note, I guess is that for me the best thing I ever did was to reach out, ask for help, put my hand up to get some professional help. It was one of the best things I ever did. My life changed for the better moving forward. And I owed you to do the same.
Thank you, Darius. Thank you so much for your insights and sharing your story. Both are, I guess, some of the challenges and risk factors that you faced and also your journey in terms of recovery and the five key things that you found really beneficial. And, and I think, you know, for me what really stuck out there was not necessarily the strategies, but more the challenges of implementation when we're busy and really ensuring that we maintain those practices and those strategies and have that solid plan in place to, to ensure that we're able to maintain that over a period of time. So thank you very much for sharing that with the, the audience. We're now going to the Q&A and we've got a number of questions that have come through the chat already, but if you do have more, please feel free to drop them in the chat and we'll do our best to get through all the questions this morning. So the first question has come through for Justin, and it's probably no surprise that the audience absolutely loved your poem, Justin and the audience is really keen to understand, are they able to access that and if they are, where, where or how can they do so?
Yeah, look, it's a free, you know… I do a poem a week. You can see them up on LinkedIn. I will flick through the words and everything for the team to pass out to the networks from there. But yeah, just I've got me a little YouTube channel and stuff like that. I think my mum likes 'em, so if you want to be the second person to like it, I'd appreciate that. But yeah, anywhere on LinkedIn by all means hook up and follow them through that as well.
Fantastic. So there, there's a range of different opportunities for people to get in and follow you and see that and kind of listen to that more thoroughly and, and the new material that comes out as well. The next question is for Connie from one of the audience members. And the question is that, you know, recognition that this is great work being done at the federal level, but is there any intent or plan to share it across some of the, the state based agencies or, or governments?
We are very happy to share our resources. Unfortunately what we can't do, we're not funded to support you with the implementation of those resources, but feel free to reach out. We are in the business of wanting to share what we have. So yes, happy to share, reach out to us.
Fantastic. That's great to know, Connie. And look, the next question is for you as well, and it's coming from Donna and I guess in the recognition that our servicemen and women, whether that's Air Force, Navy or Army, may face a higher risk of suicide and wondering whether the APS framework extends to those three services.
So we, as I mentioned, the framework was developed with input from a lot of our agencies, a lot of our staff, the age, the framework is not meant to kind of dictate what agencies have to do, it really is what underpins their path forward. So it is very much applicable to every agency, including perhaps defensible veterans Affairs, if that's what you are speaking to. As I mentioned, the framework is the roadmap and the agency can apply their specific initiatives, address their specific psychosocial risks. All the framework is doing is just making sure that that investment is happening across all those domains and making sure that we're enhancing the governance, the evaluation of those initiatives. One of the things, and this is not specific to any specific agency, but some things that are really common across many organizations is we get really excited. We implement an initiative and we forget to evaluate it. We forget to check in with the staff to see , is this actually working? Is this doing what we want it to do? So some of the things that the framework does is actually just gives us a bit of a checklist and making sure that all the good intention that we have is actually aligned to evidence and base and best practice. So definitely applicable, um, and very flexible.
Fantastic. So, you know, recognizing that the, the framework is just that it’s not the implementation or the initiatives, but it is that guiding document, what I guess with how different agencies may then apply that and, you know, there are a number of federal agencies that may be in higher risk roles. It could be the Australian Federal Police, certain parts of home affairs or whether it's defense and recognizing how those materials, those resources and those different things can be applied to those different work environments and those situations. And look, Donna, being an ex army psychologist myself, I know that there's been a whole bunch of initiatives done within defense to I guess recognizing the risk of the higher suicide rates and looking at suicide prevention. The next question is from Nicole and it, it's directed to you, Justin, and it's wanting to draw on your experience. So I guess on visiting the multiple workplaces within the construction industry over the years and I guess, what are some of the changes that you may have noticed within respect to, to mental health and mental ill health within those workplaces?
Yeah, I think acceptance is probably the big key here. In early days of mates, we would have to knock hard on doors and get a lot of doors slammed in our face. These days we are under the pump for requests. The sites and workplaces that are wanting to adopt some sort of program around mental health and suicide prevention. It's just mind blowing at the moment. And there's a real thirst and hunger to want to improve the space, to want to shift the culture. Just two weeks ago I was having a chat with the school and I was just over overwhelmed by the mental health literacy of grade one students. So to me, the conversation is happening. Yeah, we've got a long way to go but to see a grade one student be able to articulate some of those, you know, important things that we do for our own mental health and wellbeing, like Garys was saying, and Connie was saying, is just really breathtaking and really encouraging to see, hey, yeah, we are making a difference.
We've still got a long way to go. But it's looking a lot better than what it was.
Awesome. So it sounds like there's been a lot more openness in terms of raising awareness and driving that mental health literacy across the construction industry and to the point where it sounds like you're a little bit overwhelmed at the moment with the course that they're coming through, which is fantastic. It's awesome.
The next question is for Darius and it's coming from Jessica, and I think, you know, it's a great question and you spoke about risk factors and we know that transition within work can be a risk factor for multiple people. And, and the questions about your own personal experience around your transition out of full-time NFL and and into retiring, and, and how was that for you and how was that experience?
Yeah, I think it's one of those things I guess that talked a little bit about that, about really separating your self worth from, you know, your job. I think that's really important. And rugby league, it's at the highest level and something you play and do since you're probably six, seven year old little, little boy. So being an athlete I think is probably at the top of that scale as far as that self worth. It's something you've done for such a long time. So to be able to really separate that differentiate the two, I think's really important. So to know that you as your work, whatever you doesn’t define you as who you are. I think that's really important. So it's something that I've worked towards over a long period of time, probably the last four or five years of my sporting career, to know that, make sure that hopefully that I was in the best space possible when I did retire, that I had other things to go to and aspirations, dreams.
And I always talk back to that meaning and purpose too. I think if you have a find that meaning and purpose in life, and sometimes that is a challenge. But one on one hand, rugby league was that for me, for such a long time, very grateful for that experience. And now I am lucky enough to have fallen into another space where I'm really passionate and have something that I want to drive and focus on and, and just making sure I do differentiate that, whatever I do at work doesn't value the person I am at home.
Fantastic. And I think that's such really important reflections around that, that identity piece. And I think as humans, it is, you know, really kind of normal human behavior at times to build your identity around what you are doing. And so recognizing the risks that can come with that when we do transition and, and really finding that that meaning and purpose in you as an individual as opposed to, to what you're doing, which is fantastic. Thank you.
The next question is to the entire panel and, and it's in recognition that you know, suicides impacts multiple people, not just the person who may be considering it or, or participating in, in those behaviors. And so the question is, what support is available to the community or someone who has lost someone due to suicide? Maybe we'll throw over to you first, Justin. Yeah.
Look as tough as it is, and I think Connie referred to it as it's not a panacea, we still are losing people and we will lose people. I think there's a couple of organizations like if it happens in construction, we'll do what we call a posten. So we'll go and visit a site and we'll support those that are really rattled or a little bit wobbly as as a result of what's happened. Um, but there's another fantastic organization called Standby. They're in different parts of Queensland, around Australia as well. They provide real support to family members that have been impacted or bereaved by suicide or loss of someone they care about. And from what I understand as well, I mean that could be two years ago and you can still receive that support from standby. There's another couple of great organizations around Australia that support people going through grief and things like that. So those are the ones off the top of my head. And I've got a lot of websites and knowledge around other organizations, but by all means there is support out there. I think that is the bottom line.
Fantastic. So it sounds like there's a number of community based organizations and are doing great work to, to support people. Yep.
Connie, do you have any additional resources or insights to that question?
I think Justin has covered them all, but what I will say from a workplace perspective is that this really ties, you know, when you consider what Justin has said, the other side of it in a workplace perspective is making sure that you have planned for the possibility that this may happen to one of your staff members. So do you have post prevention policies and procedures in either, suicide prevention policy or a critical incident policy?So these are things that, are really helpful to start thinking about. Not only do we respond to perhaps suicidal distress in our staff, but what happens if that, that were to occur? So thinking about your Post prevention policies in the workplace is a real important factor to consider as part of your overall suicide prevention practice.
Great insights and the criticality of that post prevention piece and ensuring that it's thought through as part of the holistic framework through implementation. And so, you know, in the event that something does happen or that we do lose someone to suicide that we know and what we can, I guess go to in the workplace to support people.
The next question is for Justin from Lauren. And you spoke earlier around this idea of calling people out and, you know, trying to get them to open up, but I guess the question is around, well, what happens if they don't open up? What do we do? How do we handle that?
Look I guess, I think a lot of us, we get this question in a lot. I refer back to when I was going through some of my stuff, my boss was one of those people. He didn't know really what to do, but he just kept calling me out. And I was a typical bloke back then going, “Yeah, no, I'm alright”, you know. Um but from my perspective, every time he called me out every time he asked what's going on, every coffee he took me out to, it gave me a seed of hope that someone gave a rep. Now, when I was ready, I actually opened up. So in terms of the question there, it's about continue showing someone that you, that you've noticed, that you care enough to notice and, and ask, while they might not be forthcoming, it's about letting them know that when they are ready, that they've got someone that they can go to.
Certainly if it's crisis point and you need to make emergency phone calls, by all means doing that. But I think we're all pretty adapt at knowing, you know, you're saying that, but I don't believe you. So I'm going to use, you know, these are all my reasons for asking, you know, it's not, not just a general conversation I'm asking because I've got all these reasons, all this evidence loaded up over here that might suggest that you're struggling, that you are doing it tough and, and be, you know, our intent when we are worried about someone is to do all we can to help them. So keep doing all you can to help them keep asking and when they are ready for some, for some people you might not be their go to. So offer up, you know who's someone that you trust that you might want to talk about this. In Mates we've got connectors, they've got green stickers, easily identifiable. So it could be, you know, I might not be the person for you, and that's okay, but where else can we get you someone that you might be able to trust and might be able to feel okay to open up to. So that's our, yeah…
Fantastic. So we're not shining bright lights in their face, interrogating them, telling them to open up. We're continuing to demonstrate that empathy check in with them or potentially ask, you know, is there someone else that you would like to talk to? And, and I like to think about it as knocking on the door. You know, the first time you knock at the door, they might not be home, they might not answer. It might be the third or fourth time you knock that they actually answer the door and open up a hundred percent. Fantastic.
Sticking with you Justin, the next question is from Penny, and it's asking you about the risk of vicarious trauma and the work that you do and what supports are in place.
Yeah it's a very, you know, empathy is born by experience and, and we do what we do. Like Darius says, you know, this gives me purpose but I need to know that if I don't look after myself through some of those strategies that Darius talked about, you know, what can we do? Our boss refers to four buckets. Our bucket of physical energy, our bucket of mental energy, our bucket of connection, and our bucket of spiritual in all that purpose sort of thing. So for me it's about ensuring that, yeah, I go for a walk, no longer do I do my marathons, Darius. I'll connect with me, mum and dad via Zoom, or I'll connect with my family. We'll go to a movie or doing what I do gives me purpose. But there are times, busy times like October and September when we're all pretty cooked by the message that we're sharing.
And so I know for me it's about preparing for those times. And I also have a counsellor that I see monthly and we strategize, you know, I'm not always in the pickle, but we strategize on how I get through tough stuff. And so a big commitment from our workplace is that everyone is entitled to an employee assistance program. Not only recommended, but not enforced, but highly recommended that we make sure we look after ourselves, otherwise we're not going to have the capacity to look after other people with what we do. So important to, you know, check yourself out before you help other people out.
Awesome. So it sounds like a mix of proactive strategies there and engaging in those proactive supports as well and practicing all the great things that we preach. But not running marathons anymore.
The next question is more, I guess a workplace specific one, and it's looking at this concept of returning to work post experience of mental ill health or mental injury. And based on your experiences of returning to work, what would be helpful in the workplace? And Darius, we might go to you first if that's okay.
Yeah, I think just being I suppose safe with the way you were returning to work too, I guess was taking small steps first. If you have coming back from a challenge or a mental health concern, and I think also just being hopefully you have a safe space to go back to as well. So hopefully you've built up some connections and some rapport with some of the people in your workforce. And, and if not, maybe there is, like Justin said, there's one or two that you really do get along with and have that trust and rapport with that you can spend a bit more time with them. And maybe it is, you know, speaking to your boss or leader about what days you might be able to come in. Can you do some zooms? Can you work from home to start off just that initial process of, you know, returning the work slowly, I think's really important, but hopefully you have enough good quality people in that building and the environment and the culture's great at your workplace that you feel safe enough to return and maybe it's just in a slow space, slow way.
Absolutely. So that gradual nature of return to work and, and doing what's achievable and, and realistic. But you know, I think the critical piece there is that engagement with your workplace and that it is a safe space for you to return to work. Justin, any thoughts from your perspective?
Yeah, look, and again, I draw on Darius's wording around support. I call it my scaffolding, and so always having that safe space, but, more importantly, scaffolding. I had to return to work after one of my, Simpson Hospital and understanding that there's everyone's walking on eggshells and around you. So trying to normalize that return to work as well as having those safe people to, that you can connect with both at work and at home and even in professional supports as well was a really important part. And, and for me, it was very much a step by step, very much just slow, slow and steady that reintegration into what your, your usual role is. I call it your normal role, but that usual role that you partake in and so important to have those supports and strategies and scaffolding, um, prior to, to coming back. And, um, I worked closely with the, the HR team at my particular job and, and they were really good at, at softly, softly getting me back to that space where I could excel at what I was doing it.
Great. It sounds like it was quite a structured kind of return of work for you that you went through when you had to do it, and it sounds like the supports were in place from the workplace at the time as well. Connie, I might throw over to you with that same question and just ask, is there anything within the capability framework that kind of looks at this challenge of return to work for someone who may have experienced mental ill health or suicidality?
Yes. So three of the domains of the framework are actually based on the mental health continuum. So looking at what are the initiatives and the enablers that we need to embed that look at prevent harm all the way down to recovery. So again, we don't necessarily tell agencies what those initiatives are, but we do ask them to consider that whole continuum in terms of what they need to do. You know, although there's a lot of things that could be done we are really trying to build on some of the simple stuff. So we know some of the buffers, whether people are coming back to work after a period of mental ill health or otherwise. And of course there's individual and specific things that can be done for those things. Let's get the basics right. So how are you going to connect with this person?
How are you going to show that you respect their autonomy while also giving options Some of that scaffolding and support that both Darius and Justin spoke about? Um, how are you going to educate yourself to kind of understand, oh, this person is coming back after a period of major depression. Yes, I want to hear what their needs are, but what do I know about major depression and how that might impact in the workplace? What might be some things that I can offer in when I was working more in the clinical world. Some of the things I would talk about with people who were returning to work were, how can we in this space articulate what you might need and how does that then translate to a return to work plan? So that's doing it from the person's side, but I really think that's important from an agency side, not that they need to be experts in it, but really just putting themselves in that person's shoes and thinking about, for instance, if a person is coming back after a period of major depression, I wonder what their sleep is like.
I wonder if maybe offering those flexible hours because their sleep schedule, has now changed, would be useful. So again, it it's just trying to empathize and put yourself in the person's shoes, but the biggest thing behind all of that is connecting and trying to kind of have those conversations in the workplace that mean it's okay. So the biggest buffer to supporting people to return to work is connection with your, with your team, with your staff, with your manager. If you've got that, that's a pretty good buffer for some of the other staff. Again, there's individual and personalized things to do, but get the basics right and that will go a long way.
Fantastic. So yeah, I like to think about it at times of being human right? If we can be empathetic and create that connection and support that person and ask those questions with that individual as the expert and what they need for their return to work journey, that's a really great place to start.
Connie, we're going to stay with you for the next couple of questions. The first one is a really simple one, and can you please share your QR code again? And there it is up on screen for our audience, so please take the time to snap that so you can see those resources. The next question, Connie, is do you have any examples of innovative practices in workplaces that relate to prevention and early intervention? So what have you seen agencies do and how they actually implemented this framework in, in an innovative way?
That's a really good question, and you're really are asking me to go deep into my brain. Some of the really great things are probably going to sound a little bit boring, and the reason they're boring is because they're things that we know but require a lot of time and investments. So the biggest thing to do, the biggest thing that I've seen agencies take on is looking at that psychosocial risk assessment of all of their roles in their agency. That's then looking at what do we know about these roles? How can we then, um, look at job design to make sure that we can either remove some of those risks or if we can't, how do we buffer those risks? Um, so when, and again, not just our agencies, but organizations, you know, this investment might take 6, 12, 24 months and maybe something that has to be repeated.
So although it might sound a little bit boring, the innovation is actually in how do agencies protect this time so that these assessments can occur? Because how do we know what initiatives are going to work if we don't know what the problem is? And so often we can kind of have a guess, we can have a guess, and maybe they're really good educated guesses. Um, but I guess what I've learned in psychology is I need to do a thorough assessment, which then guides my treatment plan. And this is the same for agencies. We need to do assessments of what's going on in all roles, at all levels. And then from that, those are where our initiatives should come from. So the innovation for me is, is how do we create a culture that gives that time, um, to allowing this process to occur. Sorry for the boring answer, but that is my, what I believe…
Connie, I didn't find that answer boring at all. And I think you mentioned in your presentation that culture change is a long road. And I think, you know, when we think about organizations and workplaces coming back to those principles of assessment strategy, intervention evaluation, and if we can do that, well then hopefully we're going to have meaningful interventions that are going to support people in being mentally healthy in the workplace. The last question to the panel is from JJ and the question is around people working within the private sector and the recognition that some workplaces have quite long work hours suggesting that here, JJ has a friend who works up to 16 hours a day. Is there any advice or anything we can do for, for those types of workplaces? Justin, we'll start with you.
Yeah, look I mean, we deal with a lot of single business tradies and that, you know, work from stupid o'clock to stupid o'clock doing quotes and invoice as well into the evening. We always, one of our mottos is, you know, beginning with the end in mind, thinking about, you know what do I want to look like in 60 years time and, how do I take the steps to get to where that end product is? I've never heard anyone on on their death bed saying Gee, I wished I worked longer and harder. So sometimes it's about reframing what just is what is important to someone. If you are time poor, we talk to a lot of people about, you know doing those things, those strategies that help keep you well.
Sleep's a big part of that as well. So, you know, working out how you include things like exercise, how do you include things like activities for your brain. And, again, all done with the single lens of, you know, where do I want to be? I know it sounds like a big picture sort of stuff, but if my pilot didn't know where he was going, then I'd be very worried, you know? So we need to have a destination in mind and with that try and, um, look after our wellbeing with some of these strategies to, you know, incrementally get to that, that end of, that destination I suppose.
Awesome. So for those individuals who may be working longer hours or you know, have high workloads, really thinking through what is it that, where do I want to be and what's important to me and how do I achieve that? Awesome. Yeah, Darius?
Yeah, I think just adding on to what Justin said about the sleep and diet exercise piece, but then also I think just trying to find where you can throw some hobbies and interests in, into your weekly routine. You know, so if you have a long week and it's Monday to Friday, then maybe it's your weekends where you have hobbies and interests, golf, surfing, you know, kids, friends, family, you know, date nights, you know, all those type of things, but where can you just add those little, I suppose little breakers in that in your busy week, in that life of week schedule, I guess, where you can just kind of refocus, recharge, and then go again. I think that's really important. I think having those hobbies, interests, you know, big weeks coming up, but I've got that thing to look forward to on Saturday or Sunday. I'll recharge, refocus, enjoy that time and then go again, you know? So I think just having those little times you can recharge is important as well.
So planning and recovery into those, those big work weeks. Fantastic. And, Connie, any advice from your perspective?
Yeah, I think Darius and Justin have provided a good overview about we as individuals can do, but I guess I want to remind people that there's a mutual responsibility here of the workplace and the worker. So some great ideas there about what you as an individual worker can do and really important, but what is it that the workplace can do to buffer that, you know, that could be things related to as simple as rostering and how do you run your roster so that the impact of that fatigue is reduced? Um, again it’s not likely to go away altogether, but what can you do to reduce the impact of it? So again, really considering from an individual perspective, what can I do, but what is it that my agency, organization, should be doing to as much as possible, protect me from this hazard? Because it is a hazard, but it also has to be done so it's not a all or nothing situation. I'd be looking at some of those workplace buffers to then enhance what you are doing as an individual.
Awesome. Thanks Connie. And yes, though we had a great livestream event on burnout and some of the things that workplaces can do to start mitigating that from a systemic perspective. And so that will be up on the work safe website in the coming weeks. So you can also check out some more in depth advice there. For our panelists, we're going round off with your top tip in 30 seconds or less. So Connie, we'll stay with you. Top tip for workplaces or for people,
Oh, you've caught me on the spot. I would say evaluate your initiatives, check your organizational enablers and yeah, evaluate your initiatives. Are they working, are they doing what you think they're doing?
Fantastic. Making sure what we're actually doing has is into doing what we intended to do. Uh, Darius
I think I'd just say building connection, rapport. I think building that within your organization workforce, whether you're the leader or the employee, I just think having that connection, that trust, that rapport, having a safe space to go to at work each day is really, really important.
Awesome. And Justin?
Yeah, look, I think kindness, practice kindness. We, we all go through stuff and, and that connection and the empathy that we've talked a lot about today is all, all around practicing kindness. So you never know what someone's gone through.
Awesome, thank you. And thank you everyone for joining us today. In today's session, we heard as our panelists shared their perspectives and lived experiences around mental health, how to start the conversation, listen and connect. And Connie, thank you for sharing insight into the work aps are doing around mental health and suicide prevention. A reminder, if you need support, please consider employing the usual self care strategies that you typically find helpful. Connect with a peer or manager, contact your employee assistance provider or your regular treating health professional. Support channels and numbers are on the screen in the chat where you can call Lifeline at any time on 13 11 14, today's presentation, the recording of it will be available on our website. Keep an eye on out for it in the coming weeks. As we wrap up. The event today on screen is a QR code.
You're invited to confidentially share insights into the preferences, barriers and drivers for your organization in developing and implementing health and safety management systems that consider mental health and how you can engage in mental health initiatives and programs fantastically. You can also go into the draw to win, uh, for our mental health training package for managers, which is valued at almost a thousand dollars. So check out the website for Work Safe for Resources. You can still register for our last livestream tomorrow on diversity and inclusion, including supporting Neurodiverse workers. And of course there is an opportunity to catch up on any event recordings you may have missed throughout the week. Have a great day everyone, and remember, work safe, home safe.