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  • Tamar Balkin

What are you doing for world mental health week?

‘No more gas in the rig

Can't even get it started

Nothing heard, nothing said

Can't even speak about it

Out my life, out my head

Don't want to think about it

Feels like I'm going insane, yeah’

Disturbia by Rihanna (click here for the song)

photo by Pier Monzon on Unsplash


"Stigma wears many faces. We most commonly equate it with how we treat one other. However, that represents only part of the issue; personal shame, internalized through an individual’s mental health suffering, is a silent problem. We must normalize talking about mental health and its multitude of conditions because stigma is the chain onto which all mental health conditions link."

Dévora Kestel

Regular readers would be know that the purpose of my work is to enhance leadership capability and wellbeing. In addition, whenever appropriate I raise awareness of the complexity of mental illness.

How do we address mental health in the workplace?

1. Minimise or prevent harm

Take the time to define your purpose:

  • What are you trying to achieve?

  • Who are you serving by doing this work?

  • How will you remind yourself and remain accountable ?

Take the time to define your values: ie guide for prioritising and making decisions.

  • What really matters to you

  • How you want to treat others

  • Your ethics

Prepare for how will you be politely assertive and push back on unrealistic timeframes and responsibilities.

Prioritise: remember not everything is important and urgent, but make time for the important non-urgent. (click here for my resource sheet)

Identify your wellbeing "not negotiables" the things that you can never stop doing in both life and work. (click here for one of my blogs on wellbeing)

  • Relationships, with family, friends, colleagues and community

  • Meaning purpose and direction

  • Resilience

  • Energy and vitality (physical health)

  • Boundaries

  • Flow

Create a psychologically safe workplace. (click here for my blog) Learn the varied behavioural manifestation of exhaustion, stress and boredom. (click here for my blog) Exceptional leaders always strive to enhance their wellbeing, emotional intelligence and self awareness.

2. Intervene early

  • When there is high pressure from external and internal circumstances name the 'elephant in the room' with the team and make a plan to minimise the impact on life and work.

  • Know when and how to have an RUOK Conversation (click here for my blog)

  • Learn the signs of burnout, and mitigation strategies. (click here for my blog)

  • Encourage and support evidence based assistance.

  • When possible manage the impact of mental illness on colleagues and stakeholders.

  • Follow up with empathy (click here for my blog)

Australian sources of help

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

  • Doctor

  • Clinical psychologist

  • 000

3. Support recovery:

Successful recovery requires a delicate balance between the needs of the individual, their colleagues, and stakeholders. At all times it is essential to ensure that the work place is safe for all employees, that kindness, confidentiality and empathy is at the forefront of all behaviour.


"A key step widely recognised to improve RTW outcomes is for an appropriate manager or supervisor to contact the worker before they go off work and frequently through their recovery process to ask them how they are going, indicate your interest in their welfare and see what help they might need."


More Information:

Recovery is complicated and the following websites provide an excellent overview of legal responsibilities and practical steps. Safe work Australia: Heads Up: Workplace strategies for Mental Health

Final Thoughts:

As I have written in the past, assistance from others is an excellent way to increase our wellbeing resources. Researchers have found that those who receive help find work and life more enjoyable and satisfying (Click here for my blog). Remember we can only look after the mental health of others if we look after our own mental health. If you know in your gut that you are not feeling yourself, don't hesitate or wait till you are really languishing, act now and make an appointment to see your GP.



Work-related psychological health and safety A systematic approach to meeting your duties National guidance material. (2019). [online] Available at:

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