From today until 31 October, people across NSW are being asked to share their thoughts on how their own and their community’s mental health and wellbeing can be improved, says WayAhead CEO Elizabeth Priestley. [Read more…]
Workplaces as Communities. Workplaces as part of Communities. What is our Impact?
That is the question that was asked at this year’s WayAhead Workplaces Annual Forum. The yearly meeting brings together members of the WayAhead Workplaces Network to meet peers, learn from the latest research and hear about the newest programs encouraging good workplace wellbeing.
[For professional photos from the event, visit: wayahead-workplaces-annual-forum-2019]
This year, attendees had the opportunity to hear from, and engage in conversations with, a range of different speakers. Presenters included Pete Jensen from The Art of Work, Dr Michelle Lim from the Australian Coalition to End Loneliness and Swinburne University of Technology, Carmen Betterridge from Suicide Risk Assessment Australia, Mark Pittman from Allianz, and Steve Kimmens from my career habit.
“By making mental health a priority in your organizations, you’re making a great impact…one theme that I’ve heard through our consultations is the power of meaningful work.” @CatherineLourey of @MHCNSW #WayAheadWorkplaces pic.twitter.com/AprbR755IM
— WayAhead (@mentalhealthnsw) June 17, 2019
Catherine Lourey, NSW Mental Health Commissioner, and Robyn Hobbs OAM, NSW Small Business Commissioner, opened the day with insights from their work speaking with people about their concerns around NSW.
“The biggest difference you can make is to remember that there are communities out there, our neighbours…spare a thought, because you can make a difference”. @RobynHobbsOSBC of @NSWSmallBizCom on drought-affected communities and workplaces in NSW #WayAheadWorkplaces pic.twitter.com/7KnJ27iGgA
— WayAhead (@mentalhealthnsw) June 17, 2019
Pete Jensen, Director of Wellbeing at Art of Work, spoke about the importance of treating the causes of unhappiness in the workplace. He used the analogy of using paracetamol to treat a headache, when it is caused by dehydration and can be more effectively treated by drinking water. In the same way, he encouraged workplaces to cultivate environments where employees and employers could have open and supportive conversations.
“85 per cent of Australians hate their work…are our workplace wellbeing initiatives responding to people’s needs? Our job is not to heal, our job is not to fix. It is to create the right conditions.” Pete Jensen of @artof_work #WayAheadWorkplaces pic.twitter.com/NTmWzGQtaY
— WayAhead (@mentalhealthnsw) June 17, 2019
Carmen Betteridge, psychologist and Director of Suicide Risk Assessment Australia, spoke about the importance of workplaces working with managers, staff and families to put practices in place to support employees, including normalising difficult conversations. She spoke about workplaces as having an important role in the community in breaking down stigma.
“Suicide prevention is everyone’s business…how do we foster an environment where family can come to us and tell us our workers need help…we have to have more conversations and make them less scary.” Carmen Betteridge of Suicide Risk Assessment Australia #WayAheadWorkplaces pic.twitter.com/zhxD4uT7pC
— WayAhead (@mentalhealthnsw) June 18, 2019
Dr Michelle Lim, the Scientific Chair of the Australian Coalition to End Loneliness and Clinical Psychologist and Head of the Social Health and Wellbeing (SHAW) Laboratory at Swinburne University of Technology, spoke about her research and findings into loneliness and it’s impact in the workplace. She drew out the differences between loneliness and social isolation, busted myths about which ages felt most lonely and encouraged people and workplaces to destigmatise loneliness by recognising it as a need, like hunger or thirst, to connect.
— WayAhead (@mentalhealthnsw) June 18, 2019
Mark Pittman, General Manager at Allianz working in government services and workers compensation, spoke about a trial of a new workplace wellbeing initiative, Here’s a Thought, run by Matthew Johnstone. The program involved brief emails being sent to program participants to encourage them to engage with topics like stress and sleep.
As an insurer, Allianz often works with clients on mental health but what do they do as an employer and how can they encourage the wellbeing of their staff? “You need a safe work environment”. Mark Pittman of @allianz_au speaks about the company’s Here’s A Thought program trial. pic.twitter.com/EQHGqUNUXx
— WayAhead (@mentalhealthnsw) June 18, 2019
The last speaker, Steve Kimmens, Career Wellbeing Facilitator and founder of my career habit, spoke about the importance of building connections at work for both personal mental and physical wellbeing, but also for the wellbeing of organisations. In fact, you can hear about what he spoke about in his own words.
— Steve Kimmens (@stevekimmens) June 19, 2019
Attendees enjoyed the topics covered and the theme of the day.
“I love the whole theme around the communities, it’s so, so important and vital…we did some research at the end of last year on leaders in workplaces and what it is that enables them to thrive,” said Sophie Hart of The Serenity Collective.
“Community and connection…came out as the most important thing for them so [the Forum] is certainly really topical.”
The team at WayAhead would like to extend a big thank you to Aon Australia for hosting us again.
For professional photos from the event, visit: wayahead-workplaces-annual-forum-2019
We sat down with Professor Ron Rapee of Macquarie University and a panel of people with a range of experiences in dealing with childhood anxiety to ask the most common questions we have come across in our work. Julie and Amanda, who both have experiences as the parent of a child with anxiety, Stefanie, a primary school teacher, and Lisa, who has experience living with an anxiety disorder, joined Professor Rapee.
When does normal anxiety become a disorder? 2:22
What might anxiety in children look like? 3:06
What are some strategies for managing and treating anxiety? 6:14
How long do anxiety disorders in children last? 13:08
How can you get help? 14:35
Is online therapy a good option? 19:40
Was getting treatment worthwhile? 20:57
Sharing videos on social media
As part of the series, we also developed short videos for Facebook that shared a little piece of insight from one of our panellists. For these videos on social media, it was important that people felt able to share them among their own friends and communities.
Insights into other aspects of childhood anxiety
Since the panel covered so many topics in such depth, we also developed some shorter videos to accompany the Small Steps, Large Strides video. These delve into particular topics outside of the general scope of the longer video, exploring the links between bullying and childhood anxiety, the effect of a child’s anxiety on the wider family, and a discussion on if anxiety is a negative thing.
What are the links between bullying and childhood anxiety?
What is the effect of childhood anxiety on the family?
Is anxiety in children a negative thing?
Macquarie University PACE Program
These videos were filmed on Darug and Gadigal country.
Not only do geographic, social and financial barriers limit access to quality mental health care in rural and remote Australia, these regions also face the country’s highest rates mental health issues. Moreover, there is a shortage of mental health professionals on the ground to help alleviate the growing mental health crisis. In a 2018 statement on mental health, the Australian Medical Association specifically highlighted the pivotal role e-health and telemedicine solutions can play in addressing this lack of support and funding for mental health care.
Considering the conditions of the mental health crisis in the country, Dr Dave Carmody, an advanced trainee in psychiatry, saw a need to better utilise modern technology to address the barriers to accessing quality care in rural and remote communities in Australia. As a result, Call to Mind was born.
“Some people are using telehealth already, and industry bodies have recognised its potential, but no one has made these services streamlined and simple enough for everyone involved – for the public, for GPs and for psychiatrists,” says Dr Carmody.
“We wanted to create a supportive platform that meant doctors could focus their time and energy on providing care to those who need it most.”
Call to Mind is made up of a team of psychiatrists and psychologists ranging in specialty and availability. Consultations are held on a secure video-conferencing platform at a time and place, either at home or at a GP’s office, that best suits individuals’ needs.
All initial psychiatrist consultations are bulk-billed for those living in eligible areas, with the option for ongoing private consults. The organisation hopes this is the first step in breaking down the barriers of availability, accessibility and stigma associated with mental health across the country.
A short walk from the waterfront, down a quiet street in Woolloomooloo, sits a hub of activity. With classes spanning from drumming to tai-chi and access to pool tables, a kitchen and even a recording studio, there is something on every day at the Ozanam Learning Centre, run by the St Vincent de Paul Society, NSW.
The Ozanam Learning Centre is a day service attached to crisis housing, Matthew Talbot Hostel, that provides services, support and classes for those experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness and social isolation.
Recently, part of the work that has been happening at the Ozanam Learning Centre has been a focus on providing a holistic experience for the people they assist. WayAhead spoke to Catherine, an Ozanam Learning Centre Activities Coordinator, about the Centre’s programs in the lead-up to launching our first Anxiety Support Group there.
For her, the important thing about the Centre’s services is that they give the people they assist the space to think about what matters most to them and what they might need some support with to achieve, whether it is cooking, employment support, Smart Recovery or accessing groups like WayAhead’s Anxiety Support Group.
For the Centre, it is important to see the person amongst their current circumstance and to allow people to be creative as well as working towards more practical goals like housing.
“Just because you’re in a period of your life where lots of your systems and structures aren’t maybe where you want them to be, doesn’t mean you don’t still have passions and interests or that you shouldn’t have the space to develop those,” said Catherine.
“Giving people the option, especially people that maybe haven’t really had that experience growing up, of developing leisure interests and things that are actually satisfying and fulfilling. It’s moving towards a really holistic space.”
Part of this is also supporting people to nurture their self-confidence and the ability to build healthy, supportive relationships with both staff members and others who engage in the service. Whether it is through gardening or cooking classes, each space allows people to learn how to connect with others.
“You see the kind of peer support that goes on, you see people who are maybe further down the line saying “I’ve been there…I’m going to help you” or “Talk to this guy, come to NA [Narcotics Anonymous]”…Because you’re not exposed to the world, you’re in this third floor up, kind of separate space, you can test out some of these things.”
The approach the Centre takes when supporting the people they work with is a person-centred, strengths-based approach. People are encouraged to recognise and use the skills they have, that they might never have identified before, to build their capacity to have the fulfilled life that they want for themselves. It is a collaborative conversation between the Centre and the people they assist.
“[When working with people] I think “what are your strengths, you do have some… let’s find them…okay, what do you want to get from here, what are you already bringing to the table…let’s make this really collaborative, [it’s] not just us telling you that you need to learn all these new skills to have a fulfilling life. What do you want from your life? What does that look like? How can I help you build it?” said Catherine.
This person-centred ethos also informs the Centre’s approach to mental wellbeing.
“A lot of people never tell you all that’s going on…so you just kind of meet that person where they are,” said Catherine.
“Because of the kind of service that we are, the pathological is quite removed, so I wouldn’t have a file on someone about their diagnoses or their mental health, it’s much more what they bring and what they tell you that’s going on.”
Although the people they work with have access to counselling services, including for gambling, drugs and alcohol and generalist services, the Centre is working on a range of different approaches to provide people with the support that best works for them.
“I have a mindful making group coming up so it’s for people to have a break from their lives and the noise. They can come into a space and cultivate a mindfulness practice in a way that’s accessible,” said Catherine.
With a renewed energy, the Centre and the people they assist seem to be going through a number of positive additions to their existing projects.
“We’ve got a real drive towards collaboration now and partnering with other people and other spaces and other organisations, just to enrich this experience that we give the people we assist and give them the most options.”
“We’re always open to how that can be improved and developed,” said Catherine.
“I think that’s a win, when a person is able to initiate what they need, to find it and for us to respond to that in a really person-centred way.”
It can be hard navigating the many support services that are out there to help people with their mental health and wellbeing.The WayAhead Directory developed organically as a response to a need in the community for a little bit of help when finding the right support.
The WayAhead Directory is a free online tool that can help people find services based on their geographical location and the type of service they are looking for.
Even if you are familiar with the WayAhead Directory, there are a few changes that might make searching for what you need an even better experience.
Over the last few months, we have been working to make the WayAhead Directory even easier to use.
We have developed a guide to how to best use the directory, based on either location or search categories.
Search categories for services are broad and can encompass many areas, including different kinds of diagnoses, specific population groups, psychological treatments, other health services and more. The guide also shares some tips that make searching the Directory even easier.
The directory can help people experiencing distress or those supporting them
For Marge Jackson, Senior Manager at WayAhead, the WayAhead Directory offers an important service to those who need some help.
“In Australia, we have a complex mental health system and so it can be really difficult for people to find what they need, particularly in times of acute distress. The WayAhead Directory offers people options for what might help them. Being able to make your own choices is often a vital part of the recovery journey for many people,” said Marge.
“The WayAhead Directory gives people a range of options that might go beyond their initial search so that they can discover new services, health providers or support services that might also be able to help them.”
Along with changes to the website, we have also been reaching out to other health and community service providers with our brand new collateral. Our bright new posters and Mental Health Information Cards are available for organisations and workplaces to order and share with their clients, along with a WayAhead Directory website widget for organisations to embed on their own websites.
“We have found that doctors and other health care workers or service providers like having the WayAhead Directory widget available on their websites. They use it to search for other services to refer their patients onto for further help and support,” said Marge.
Sharing your thoughts
We have also been rolling out opportunities for users to provide feedback on their experiences with using the WayAhead Directory. On every page, there is a “Feedback” tab on the right-hand side that can be clicked to provide written feedback. Insights from users are incredibly useful in making sure that we continue to deliver a great experience in helping people find what they need.
There is also a tab in the bottom-left corner of every page that says “We Are Here”, that visitors to the Directory can click on and type in their question. WayAhead staff will respond in real time to help them with their search.
People can also call the WayAhead office during business hours on 1300 794 991 to have someone support them through finding the right services listed in the WayAhead Directory.
Visit the WayAhead Directory at: https://directory.wayahead.org.au/
There are many individuals and organisations across NSW doing vital work to ensure the wellbeing of others. Because this work is often quiet or grassroots, it can be hard to hear about the successes. Once a year, we celebrate those who have worked so hard for the better mental health in our community with the Mental Health Matters Awards.
The winners receive a plaque, a luncheon at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney, a $1,000 prize and a chance to share their passion for their projects with their peers and members of the public.
Last year, we had winners across a number of categories, both individuals and organisations, recognised for the immense contributions that they have made in our sector.
One of the 2018 winners was the program, Red Dust Healing, in the Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Award category.
Red Dust Healing
Red Dust Healing is specifically for Indigenous men, women and families to support them through life’s challenges. These include family and community violence, suicide, rejection, addictions, grief and loss, and mental health issues. The program is so successful because it uses Indigenous perspectives.
The Red Dust Healing program has reached more than 15,000 people across more than 300 communities, both in Australia and overseas.
The Wagga Wagga Mental Health Recovery Unit won last year’s Lived Experience Participation and Leadership Award for their Mental Health Recovery Program. The Unit provides a free, residential, voluntary psycho-education and support program for people with a mental health issue.
Wagga Wagga Mental Health Recovery Unit
The program takes a holistic approach including sleep, diet, exercise, communication, relationships and emotional wellbeing. The course also covers self-esteem, assertiveness, mental health, healthy eating, distress tolerance, cognitive behavioural therapy, living skills and personal recovery.
Consumers set their own goals, write their own weekly reports and run their own meetings. As a result, the program focusses on consumers to ensure that they are at the centre of their own journey.
This year, there are new categories for awards. The first is the Mental Health Matters Youth Award, recognising initiatives that are focussed on early intervention among young people. The second is the Mental Health Matters Rainbow Inclusion Award, sponsored by ACON, recognising projects that are committed to the mental health of LGBTIQA+ communities.
Nominations for the Mental Health Matters Awards 2019 are now open across a range of categories. To find out more or to complete a nomination, visit: mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/about-the-awards/nomination/
Take a look below at some of what we got up to at Mardi Gras Fair Day in Sydney’s Victoria Park on 17th February 2019. We spoke to many people about good mental health and collected their thoughts on the best Stress Less Tips. We also kept everyone cool with our brand new fans.
Hoarding disorder and the behaviours that accompany it are often widely misunderstood or dismissed. Estimates suggest that between 2 and 5 per cent of the Australian population are living with problematic clutter and hoarding disorder.
Although it is a disorder that affects many, often people treat it thoughtlessly or symptomatically.
For friends and family of those with hoarding disorder, it might be tempting to tackle the accumulation of things with clean-outs and rubbish bins.
However, it is important to approach this disorder like any other, with compassion and consideration for the people with the lived experience.
Our new 16-week Buried in Treasures Workshops, will be piloted in Sydney’s east. Trained facilitators will work with people who live with problematic clutter in order to help them take control of their lives.
The workshops are based on the research behind the book, Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding, by David Tolin, Gail Steketee and Randy Frost.
WayAhead’s Support Group Leader, Rachel, with be co-facilitating the workshop along with another facilitator who has her own lived experience of hoarding behaviour.
“We know that there is a gap in reaching people with help who might be experiencing issues with hoarding disorder. Often, people aren’t reaching out to services and getting the support they want and need,” said Rachel.
How Buried in Treasures can help with hoarding disorder
The trained facilitators work with a small group of participants to support them on their journey. Participants will develop strategies to overcome clutter and resist collecting more, learn how to organise and prioritise their existing belongings and learn why it is hard to overcome clutter.
“The Buried in Treasures workshop is useful because it gives people the opportunity to engage with a scientifically-based, effective program that can help people with hoarding disorder make their own way out of their circumstances,” Rachel said.
Lee Shuer and Bec Belofsky Shuer visited Australia last year from the US in order to deliver the Buried in Treasure train-the-trainer workshops. Lee and Bec are both experts in the field and have spoken at length about their research, insights and experiences into hoarding disorder.
Rachel, along with a number of other volunteer facilitators, worked with the experts on how to deliver the Buried in Treasures workshops in order to best support those living with compulsive acquiring or hoarding disorder.
“The training was a great experience in understanding and empathy. For people who are not experiencing hoarding disorder, it may seem like all clutter is junk. However, we also know that for many, there are strong emotional connections to their belongings. It is not just about throwing things out,” said Rachel.
“The Buried in Treasures workshop recognises this and supports people in feeling empowered in their own lives.”
WayAhead is encouraging people who have experience with problematic clutter to register to attend the workshops. It may help those struggling with clutter to develop tools to identify and manage tendencies to compulsively collect items and how to organise existing belongings to have less impact on their lives.
Register and find support
Contact Rachel to register your interest – email@example.com or 02 9339 6013