Support Systems & Education
How can support systems and workplace training opportunities help staff wellbeing? The second section of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Toolkit offers tips and resources on creating a mentally healthy workplace.
The more that a practice can do to help educate, support and empower people the better. The key is to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and prevent problems developing into full-blown crises. The ideal is to have at least one person in the senior management team who is fully educated and champions mental health within the practice. Their role is to help create an open culture where it is acceptable to discuss mental health. They can also facilitate basic training on mental wellbeing, mindfulness, team-building and creating healthy workplaces.
Once a practice has established a mental health strategy, policy or initiatives, clear communication is key, so all employees are aware of the supports available to them. It is also important to raise awareness within practice that just as we look after our physical health to avoid becoming ill, so too should we take care of our mental wellbeing.
Tips for practices
- Develop a Mental Health Strategy and consider the best way to convey to staff how the practice promotes, supports and provides guidance on mental wellbeing.
- Consider investing in training to help staff recognise early signs of a mental health condition – Mental Health First Aid courses are a good place to start.
- Consider using an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider for professional support to all in the practice.
- To try to reduce stigma, run short sessions explaining the basics of mental health to all staff within the practice. These can be CPD sessions or even lunchtime TED Talks.
- Make staff aware of external support, such as Beyond Blue and Lifeline.
Tips for individuals
- Take advantage of the many resources available to help you gain a better understanding of mental health. These may be YouTube videos, podcasts, websites or mental health blogs – all of which are free and easily accessible.
- Play your part in creating a culture of openness, where people feel comfortable to say if they’re struggling.
- If mental health isn’t a topic that’s on your company’s radar yet and you’d like to learn more, let senior staff know you’d be interested in completing a Mental Health First Aid course.
- Ten things you can do to make your workplace mentally healthy – Heads Up (Beyond Blue).
- NewAccess for Small Business Owners – free and confidential mental health coaching program for small business owners, Beyond Blue.
- People at Work – Australia’s only validated online psychosocial risk assessment tool, available to all employers. Includes info on workplace responsibilities, psychosocial hazards and building a business case, and a hub of useful resources. Funded by federal and state governments.
- Heads Up Training and Resources – Free webinar series and online training programs.
- Employee Assistance Professional Association of Australasia – Peak body for Employee Assistance Programs in Australasia.
- Mental Health First Aid Australia – Courses for individuals, organisations and instructors.
- Why we all need to practice emotional first aid – Guy Winch, TEDxLinnaeusUniversity.
This is an excerpt from the first edition of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Toolkit (Australia), an edited version of the UK Toolkit, which was compiled by members of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum in the UK – a group that John Assael and Ben Channon set up in late 2017 with the ambition of improving mental health across the profession.
This toolkit includes content and resources specific to Australia. We would like to thank Ben Channon and the AMWF UK for their generosity in allowing us to tailor this Toolkit for the Australian profession. Thanks also to Artemis Nikolopoulou, who designed the UK Toolkit, and Siân Rearden for the illustrations.