We’re excited to share two MHFA success stories in this update. The first is from a multi-faceted professional sporting club and the other is from an organic beef exporter, working in the agricultural sector. Their journey to MHFA, and experiences with the program, are very different, but a common thread running throughout both stories is the impact and reach that Mental Health First Aid training has had; not only in their workplace but also the community more broadly. We hope you enjoy learning more about these unique workplaces.
In recognition of World Schizophrenia Day, we focus on addressing many of the common misunderstandings and stigma that surround Schizophrenia.
Finally, we round-off our update with news and updates, including an overview of the Federal Budget delivered this week and what it means for mental health and suicide prevention. We’ve also included the details of our upcoming Workplace Networking event. Spaces are limited, so make sure you register and secure your spot today!
Mental Health, Sport & Education:
A Winning Combination
As a nation, we love our sport. Not only does it entertain, but it also promotes healthy lifestyles, connects us socially and builds resilience. But it is no surprise that high performance, high profile environments such as elite sport, can result in pressures that impact on mental health.
Recognising that good mental health is critical to delivering positive outcomes, both on and off the field, Richmond Football Club’s education arm – Richmond Institute – established a partnership with MHFA Australia to deliver Mental Health First Aid training within the Club and also the community more broadly.
Richmond Institute has ambitious plans for the future of MHFA training and through their relationships with Swinburne Institute and local sporting connections, is committed to ensuring that the next generation of sports leaders and players are equipped with mental health first aid skills.
Learn more about the work of Richmond Institute and their commitment to helping the broader community ‘thrive and win’.
Agricultural business amplifies the positive mental health message
For many agricultural businesses, mental illness can be a taboo subject. That was definitely the case for organic beef exporter, OBE Organic, where staff kept their personal lives private. In 2019, OBE leadership made the bold decision to change that narrative, with the goal of destigmatizing mental ill-health in their workplace and the industry more broadly.
OBE Organic established a Mental Health Committee and MHFA training was offered to all staff, as the business sought to improve the mental health literacy of its employees and create a more supportive working environment.
A few years on and benefits of MHFA training are evident through more open and honest dialogue, improved staff morale and the knowledge that if a situation does arise, that staff have skills and confidence needed to support one another.
Read more about OBE Organic and their commitment to promoting positive mental health in their workplace and the agricultural industry.
Schizophrenia – offering support and overcoming barriers
People with any mental illness face many challenges, from accurate diagnosis and management of symptoms, through to finding the right supports for long-term management or recovery. An extra burden comes from the misconceptions, stigma and even fear about their illness. Schizophrenia is arguably one of the most misunderstood yet relatively common mental illnesses. It is estimated to affect approximately 1 in 100 Australians. While we are all familiar with the term, do we know what the illness really is?
Understanding schizophrenia means knowing how it impacts a person, acknowledging the facts, tackling dangerous myths and using the correct language. You can also show one-to-one support that makes someone with schizophrenia feel more accepted and connected.
Need to refresh your mental health first aid skills? In this update we focus on the third action in the MHFA Action Plan: Give support and information.
Support includes empathising with how they are feeling, giving them hope for recovery and, if appropriate, helping them with tasks that seem overwhelming. You can also ask them if they would like information about mental health problems.
You can support a person experiencing a mental health problem by showing them respect and dignity. It is important to respect the person’s autonomy, resist the urge to try and ‘solve’ their problems and, wherever possible, allow them to make their own decisions for recovery, even if you disagree. Try to convey acceptance, but remember it is more important that you are genuinely caring, rather than saying all the ‘right things.’
Offering consistent emotional support and understanding is an important part of providing mental health first aid. While you may not fully understand how a person feels, let them know you care, that you’re there to help and reassure them that they are not alone. Listening or being with the person is a simple way to let them know you care.
Have realistic expectations of the person you are trying to support and remember that their mental health problems may be preventing them from behaving in the ways they normally would. Everyday activities like cleaning the house, paying bills, or feeding the dog may seem overwhelming. Let the person know that they are not being ‘lazy’, ‘weak’ or ‘selfish’ and do not push them to do activities that they feel are too much. It is important to accept the person as they are.
MHFAider Advisory Group update and outcomes
In March this year, we invited more than 30 MHFAiders to provide feedback on the 2021 MHFAider Network Plan, including planned events, upskill opportunities, resource development and more. A smaller live advisory group Zoom meeting was held on the 10th of March which provided additional valuable insight.
You will hear from four workplaces on the successes and challenges they have experienced while implementing MHFA training:
Tanya Roberts, Administration Manager
Australian Wind Services
Melissa Cameron, Advisor Health & Wellness, Evolution Mining
Michelle Cook, Senior Learning Specialist, Services Australia
Ruth Oakden, Group Manager Wellbeing, Toll Group
Workplace Networking Event
Join us on Wednesday 16th June from 12.30 – 2.00pm AEST for our Zoom Workplace Networking Event. For workplaces considering Mental Health First Aid training the Workplace Webinar is the perfect opportunity to hear from workplaces who have successfully introduced MHFA training.
For workplaces already running MHFA training, the Workplace Webinar provides the opportunity to talk to peers, ask questions and learn more about the innovative ways that businesses are using MHFA to improve employee well-being and workplace culture.
There will be a short presentation from our four featured workplaces, followed by a Q & A session and the chance to have more in-depth conversations in smaller, facilitated breakout rooms.
Places are limited. Secure your spot by registering today.
If you have any questions, please contact our Workplace Engagement Team at Workplaces@mhfa.com.au
$2.3 billion investment in mental health
The Federal Budget delivered this week included a substantial investment of $2.3 billion in mental health and suicide prevention funding over 4 years from 2021-22. Funding has been allocated to a wide range of important community-based programs, services and initiatives that will address essential areas including mental health education, barriers to care and vulnerable populations.
Mental Health First Aid International welcomes the reform plan and recognition that Australians need a system that acts early to help people before mental health conditions and suicidal distress worsen, and that whole-of-government and whole-of-community changes are needed to deliver preventative, compassionate, and effective care. More information about the mental health and suicide prevention budget details can be found here.
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