Why improving mental health in the workplace is so important at Afea
October is Mental Health Month. It’s a month where we focus on ways to bring awareness to mental wellbeing. For us at Afea though, improving mental health is something we work on all year long. It’s a pivotal part of our workplace culture and is something we are very passionate about.
Wellbeing has always been a focus for us. We believe you can’t look after others if you aren’t looking after yourself. This is why we’ve always taken measures to promote positive mental health and self-care to employees and clients. In 2020, it’s more important than ever that we take the time to look after the mental health of our community. Here is what we do.
Our mental health self-care program
As soon as staff and carers start to work with us, we introduce our mental health self-care program. Our Culture Book has a section dedicated to self-care which includes mindfulness and some easy full-body movements called the Tibetan Rites. Our staff and carers’ health is vitally important. If everyone spends 15-20 minutes a day on themselves, they will see positive improvements in every facet of their lives.
We don’t just talk the talk; we also walk the walk. We start many of our meetings with a sentiment check to see what headspace we are all in. We often have mindfulness sessions throughout the day so everyone can reset and focus on the tasks at hand.
Our CEO Esha Oberoi is our guiding light when it comes to mindfulness and self-care. She shares her self-care routine in her blog, in Facebook Live Sessions and messages to carers and staff. Knowing that this focus on improving mental health at work comes from the very top allows us all to prioritise it in our daily lives.
We tune in
This Year’s Mental Health Month theme is Tune In. They define this on their website as:
“It means being aware of what is happening within you, and in the world around you. Being present by tuning in has been shown to help build self-awareness, help make effective choices, reduce the impact of worry, and build positive connections.”
Tuning in to each other is important for good mental health at work. At Afea, we do this both formally and informally.
We have regular check-ins with our staff and our carers. We have a culture of two-way feedback and authenticity and we encourage our staff and carers to speak up if they have any concerns. Our 1-1s with direct reports are run by the employee so they can talk about what they’ve achieved and what they want to learn. It also provides them with a safe space where they can bring up any worries or suggestions for improvement.
We have an open-door policy which encourages staff to come to us whenever they have concerns. For our remote workers, we also have a group chat that we’re all part of. It gives our Sydney and Melbourne carers and office staff an opportunity to connect and share news, stories and photos. This connection means we tune in to each other and helps improve mental health in the workplace.
We take the opportunity to highlight mental health awareness
It’s important to give people opportunities to talk about mental illness. Sometimes the best way to do this is to acknowledge various awareness days and months, like Mental Health Month and RU Ok Day. We always mark these awareness days in our calendar, no matter how busy we are.
This month, we are having a mindfulness session in the office as well as a yoga session. We are also doing a hip-hop class to help get the blood flowing and create a bonding experience for the office staff.
In September, we wore yellow for RU OK Day and used the day as an extra opportunity to check in with our colleagues, carers and clients. We also recognised World Happiness Day in May with a morning tea to remind each other that we’re a team and we are here for each other.