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  • Tamar Balkin

It's Time For The Serious Conversations: Are You Really Ok?

Updated: Oct 23, 2022

Yesterday  when I read the newspaper headlines, I decided that my blog on incivility in remote working could be delayed, as there is a more urgent and pressing topic that needs to be raised.

Regular readers are familiar with RU OK conversations and the mental health continuum, yet I thought it was prudent to remind you of your responsibilities and what effective action can be taken to facilitate wellbeing in the workplace.

Keyes framework provides a comprehensive understanding of the complexity of the interaction between wellbeing and mental health.

Contrary to popular opinion he explains that:  a person can be languishing without being mentally ill and a person can have a diagnosed mental illness and be flourishing.   He found that flourishing individuals function better (e.g., fewer missed days of work) than those with moderate mental health, who in turn function better than languishing individuals – and this is true for individuals with a recent mental illness and for individuals free of a recent mental illness. What is languishing?  When a person is languishing, they have low levels of subjective wellbeing, they are not feeling good or functioning at their best. They may appear to live life as if they are just be 'going through the motions'.

The role of the clinical psychologist is to help people who are languishing move to flourishing. What is flourishing? 

 According to Martin Seligman, a person is flourishing when they have a good life:  "What is the good life? It is pleasant, engaged, meaningful, achieving, and connected". Flourishing may be seen as “ a state of well–being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (p. 12).

My role as an organisational psychologist is to help leaders create psychologically safe and healthy workplaces where people can flourish.

What are the signs that someone is unwell? 

Quite simply when you notice a change in what someone is saying doing or how they are living their life. 

What are your daily responsibilities? 

Create environments in life and work where people can flourish. (See my blog for tips) 

Notice a change in someone's behaviour and encourage them to get help.

Remove the stigma of talking about mental health at work.  (See my blog for tips) 

Don’t forget the following when you encourage others to seek help:

  • They may not be ready to hear your concern.

  • They may not thank you for your input.

  • You may never know what if any action they take.

However, when done appropriately, the mere fact that you cared enough to notice that they are not themselves and to speak kindly to them will provide them with an enormous amount comfort and support - in the short and long term.

Australian sources of help:

  • Mental health crisis team- 1800 011 511 (24 hours)

  • Doctor

  • Clinical psychologist

  • 000

What can you do today?

  • Call people you haven’t spoken to for a while and see how they are.

  • Get to know people so that you actually notice a change in their behaviour.

  • Talk openly about mental illness and life and work

  • Take practical  steps today to increase the likelihood that your workplace will be psychologically safe and healthy. 

  • Know where to go for more information and support.

Readers who are in sunny Sydney, take a moment today to go for a walk in the glorious sunshine, take a moment to stop and smell the roses,  if you like please email me a picture of something beautiful that you see.  


Keyes, C.L.M (2005) Mental Illness and or Mental Health? Investigating axioms of the complete state model of healthJournal of  Consulting and Clinical  Psychology. ;73(3):539-48

Westerhof, G, J, Keyes C.L.M (2010) Mental Illness and Mental Health: The Two Continua Model Across the Lifespan. Journal Of Adult Development 17(2): 110–119

G.F. Bauer and O. Hämmig, Bridging Occupational, Organizational and Public Health: 179 A Transdisciplinary Approach, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-5640-3_11, © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

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