Australians aren’t great at identifying their emotions, having proactive discussions and developing self-care and support strategies that allow them to deal with challenges safely and effectively. Men more than women. Some call it nature, some call it ‘nurture’ but whatever the cause, we still aren’t healthy or happy and our mental health is suffering. As a result of this we’re harming ourselves and others. It’s time to make a change. And considering many of us spend the most time in our week at work, the workplace is an essential starting point.
A little bit about us: The Banksia Project is a mental health charity which creates communities of connection and support, empowering our program participants to understand their own emotions and explore them in a safe ways, in a safe space, with a safe audience. We teach individuals how to deal with life’s challenges safely, rather than waiting for a crisis to occur. Getting mentally fit and healthy – think a ‘gym for the mind’!
Working for a mental health organisation
The most important aspect of working in the mental health space as an individual or a company, is practising what we preach. We work so hard to look after others in the community and it’s vital we look after our people too. This work can be emotionally draining, so it’s important we provide time and tools for our people to stay well. In doing this effectively, they are in a better position to support the wider community. How? By working hard to walk into work each day and take off the mask. When we’re inevitably asked, “How are you?” often the spider’s web of challenges come to mind – no sleep last night, relationship challenges, worried about money, kids struggling at school. As such, our response almost slips off the tongue – “Yeah I’m good, you?”. At Banksia Project, this is the first place we start. Answering this question honestly by creating a workspace that welcomes vulnerability and building relationships from the get-go, that ensure vulnerability is accepted. Pretending everything’s “all good” is one of the worst things for our mental health.
Before anything else, the person comes first. Spending time and energy listening and supporting each other allows The Banksia Project’s team to authentically be there for one another. Beyond the initial question of “how are you?” No work can be more important than individual wellbeing. In practising this, our team is connected and trusting and vulnerable together and are willing to go above and beyond to perform to the best of their ability. In turn, make a wider impact on the community and the people we are lucky enough to work with.
In your own workplaces, start here. Start with asking this question and judge honestly whether people feel safe enough to give the right answer. We have some fantastic resources at Banksia Project to help you get started.
Thank you to Bambuddha Member Jack Jones for writing this week’s blog.
To learn more about Mental Health Awareness Month and why Mental Health Matters, visit WayAhead.com.