Shining a light on how to manage mental health

Sue Salmon at Baltimore Aircoil Company Australia

With mental health continually in the spotlight, particularly since COVID-19 restrictions first came into force in March, 2020, the Black Dog Institute is offering free mental health training for eligible NSW workplaces and one of the first to jump on board was Baltimore Aircoil Company Australia, based at Somersby.

Funded by the NSW Government, the expert-led training comes at a time when managers, leaders, and employers are being asked to play a pivotal role in their teams’ wellbeing.

With many unsure how to support their employees, the training proves you don’t need to be a mental health expert to make a difference.

Baltimore Aircoil Company Australia HR Manager, Sue Salmon, said the online training had proved invaluable for 16 managers, 14 of whom are based at Somersby and two in the company’s small South Australian office.

“The feedback from our managers was fabulous,” Salmon said.

“Two professionals ran the course extremely well and we found the content very helpful.

“It really shed a light on what our managers can do day to day.

“We all made commitments on what we could do in our own behaviour to connect with our people.

“We’re about to embark on doing some more with Black Dog and intend to take part in the One Foot Forward Challenge in October.”

Salmon said the online course helped demystify the subject of mental health.

“It gave our managers tools to build a connection with staff – to really get to know their employees,” she said.

“Some of the tips were simple; like, instead of sitting at your desk eating lunch, start eating in the canteen and have conversations.

“Often you can pick up when people aren’t doing so well.

“Some of our managers were surprised to learn they should connect with anyone having difficulties, not step back feeling they don’t want to intrude and leave them to it

“We learnt practical tips on starting a conversation and what managers might be able to do to help, such as work adjustments and encouraging anyone struggling to seek help from a GP or health practitioner.

“We’re all busy but it’s about taking that time to connect and forming relationships so if someone needs to flag something they already have a connection.”

Salmon said a staff survey conducted two years ago found the top item listed as a concern was mental health.

“And now, through lockdowns, mental health help has become more imperative,” she said.

“Our staff work from home where possible but as a manufacturer we are considered essential and we have many staff members still in the workplace.”

The Black Dog Institute says 85 per cent of managers who take the course report an increase in confidence to manage mental health issues in the workplace.

The easy-to-do programs provide practical strategies to influence positive mental health at work at an individual, team and organisational level.

More than 15,000 people across NSW have already completed the NSW Government-funded training, with 98 per cent reporting they would recommend it to others.

“Poor mental ill-health not only impacts the individual, but can have a ripple effect across the workplace, and within their communities,” Black Dog Institute Workplace facilitator, Carol Newall, said.

“This training helps businesses keep employees healthy and ensure they’re coping at work.”

Training is available at no cost to NSW Businesses with up to 200 workers and not-for-profits of any size.

It is available online with flexible options to suit the workplace and you can apply at mentalhealthatwork.nsw.gov.au

Terry Collins

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