Support through the NSW Floods

Australia is a country of extremes which can challenge us and impact our lives in profound ways. Right now, parts of NSW are experiencing floods which are causing losses and damage across the State. Natural disasters like the current storms and floods disrupt lives physically and psychologically, creating intense emotional distress for individuals, families and whole communities.

It is important through times such as these to identify those of your people who may have been directly impacted by the storms and floods and provide assistance where possible. Storm and flooding events such as these can be challenging, as the combined uncertainty about the immediate situation as well as fear and concern for what may lie ahead over coming days and weeks as storm waters continue to rise can exacerbate our thoughts and feelings.

As a leader, your organisation plays a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting your people and their families in the immediate aftermath and moving forward. We encourage you to help your people feel they can focus on their immediate priorities, which is the physical safety of family, friends, loved ones and their homes and possessions. As a leader, take the time to check in with your people, and where appropriate, remind them that their EAP is available and able to help support them through these challenging times. Many people will want to be seen as “coping” so asking how they are going is really important. Being prepared to provide initial and long term support for people will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience.

  •  Normalise reactions: Accept that people will experience a range of emotions and that it is normal. Once the event is over, it doesn't mean people's feelings go away. Acknowledge their feelings and reassure people that their intense feelings are normal given the disaster.
  • Ask how you can help: Ask if there's anything that you can do to assist employees or if there is anything they need? e.g. flexible hours, transport or belongings. Keep talking to gain clarity on what assistance they need.
  • Do not catastrophise: It is common to reflect on the "what ifs" or "what might have been". Do not speculate on how much worse it could have been. Avoid comparison of stories as each person has a right to their feelings.

To support those that may have been affected by the event, we have included documents for individual strategies (download pdf here) and tips as well as information for managers and leaders (download pdf here). These tools are also available through the AccessMyEAP App.

If you have any questions or would like to better understand what you can do that will meaningfully support your team, the experienced clinicians on our Manager Support Hotline are able to help you help your people. As manager, your individual needs matter just as much. Reach out for support when and if you need it. We are here to help. Contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.

Tips to boost your physical fitness

When life gets busy, and our routines get out of whack, it can be tricky to maintain a consistent exercise routine. Wherever you are at, it’s great to think about increasing your physical activity or even to shake things up and try something new.

Here are some tips to inspire you to get moving:

  • Set a health goal. Write it down and share it with colleagues and friends – this will mean you are more likely to achieve it. Gradually work towards that goal, step by step.
  • Understand your why – what is pushing you to increase your fitness? Could it be deeper than a waist measurement and more like stress management or better sleep?
  • If you take public transport home from work –get off one station earlier and walk home.
  • Take 20 minutes out of your Sunday and plan your week to fit in the exercise. Find a calendar that you can colour code, choose your favourite colour for exercise, and slot in times to get active. This will mean that no other meetings can be booked at that time. Secondly, if it gets to that time and your diary is hijacked, take whatever remaining minutes you have than not going at all.
  • Factor in household duties. Think of cleaning your house as part of your exercise regime. Walk to the local shops multiple times a week to get supplies rather than driving.
  • Don’t expect to love doing the “couch to five km” app (for example) straight away. This is a new skill and not something that you may be good at quickly.
  • Find your supports and ask them for specific things – meet you at the park, parent/care for loved ones, not book meetings in your lunch break.
  • Get a routine around your exercise and set yourself up for success. Get your clothes out and make sure your shoes are easily found (you can sleep longer if this is done).
  • Go for a short, sharp 20-minute exercise plan that will allow you some flexibility to keep living your life and the demands in it.
  • If you prefer working out from your home, get creative. Go for a walk and then come home and lift some cans of spaghetti and some large pumpkins for weights. This keeps costly gym memberships down too.

Counselling support can help you set goals and identify when stress and anxiety are affecting your choices and impacting your health. Start now and benefit from this free and confidential service. Call AccessEAP on 1800 818 728 to book a session.

Too busy to eat well?

There is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate that the food we eat affects our mental health. AccessEAP Nutrition Coaching gives you access to advice on how dietary changes can support wellbeing.

  • A little planning goes a long way when it comes to food and research tells us that the food we eat affects our mental health and impacts our overall wellbeing.
  • Weekly meal planning to avoid last-minute shopping when stressed and hungry.
  • Put a little excitement back into meal planning with inspirational recipe blogs.
  • Make your dollar go further with budget and time conscious menus from supermarkets.
  • Plan meals using the weekly specials catalogue to benefit from seasonal fruit and vegetable prices
  • Share the love (and the work!) – if your family or housemates are involved in the planning anyone can start the preparation.
  • Connect with family and friends with regular mealtimes.

Find out more about eating well and feeling good here.

Counselling support can help you set goals and identify when stress and anxiety are affecting your choices and impacting your health. Start now and benefit from this free and confidential service. Call AccessEAP on 1800 818 728 to book a session.

Eating well and feeling good

Eating well and feeling good about food

There is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate that the food we eat affects our mental health. For example, dietary changes have been successfully trialled in the treatment of clinical depression. The positive effects of good gut health also extend to improved mental performance, something to think about!

AccessEAP offers employees the opportunity to receive a consultation with a nutritionist for advice about dietary changes to better support wellbeing. One nutrition consultation is part of your EAP session entitlement.

The nutrition coaching service can assist with:

• understanding the impact of food choices on brain function and emotional health
• identifying impacts associated with food choices
• understanding desired health outcomes
• healthy eating tips to optimise wellbeing
• diets for health conditions.

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Seeking a good night’s sleep

It’s important to have sufficient, regular, good quality sleep for our physical and mental health. Short periods of unsettled sleep can often be managed with well-researched tips however, longer periods may require a consult with your GP.

Some Useful Tips

  • Short “nana naps” or “chill out times” during the day can help us to refresh our minds and bodies.
  • Aim to go to bed at a similar time each night.
  • Spend a quiet period immediately prior to turning in to help your body and mind settle.
  • A warm bath or shower before bed can help the body to relax and calm down.
  • Get to know your body and the effects of alcohol, spicy food and other stimulants too close to your bedtime.
  • It is preferable to keep your bedroom as distraction-free zones - no phones, TVs, iPads etc.
  • Darkening the room so your body automatically prepares itself for rest can be helpful.
  • If listening to music, keep the volume low and the type of music soothing, so you are likely to drift off.
  • If you regularly wake up during the night and have difficulty falling back to sleep, remember that it may help to get up, have some water or a decaffeinated tea, sit and quietly breathe, rather than lying in bed tense and frustrated that you are awake. Once you are feeling more soothed and settled return to bed.

It is worth formulating your own list of practical, healthy, accessible, common-sense ways to soothe your body and mind, so you can zero in on and practice what works for you.

Counselling support can help you to identify when stress and anxiety are affecting sleep and how to move forward. Start now and benefit from this free and confidential service.
Call AccessEAP on 1800 818 728 to book a session.

 

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Self-care, if not now, when?

It’s easy to put off looking after yourself. There seem to be so many other priorities that keep getting in the way. However, taking some time to notice and act on how you are coping with added demands, could help in all areas of your life. Self-care becomes particularly important when you work in a job that requires a lot of emotional energy. Often the day to day nature of this work can leave you feeling that you have few resources to take care of yourself and little time for the people who are important in your life. It can be common to feel tired and lethargic by the end of the day or week. Sometimes switching off from work can be difficult. Jobs that typically require a lot of emotional energy are also often very rewarding and involve making a positive difference to individuals or communities, and there are ways you can make this work sustainable for you.

Signs that you really need to take care of yourself better may include:

  • Too little or too much empathy for others
  • Resentment toward responsibilities
  • Adopting a negative view of people in general.
  • Difficulty controlling your reactions to others.
  • Reduced job satisfaction.
  • Harmful behaviour to avoid or escape thinking about work. Could include drinking more alcohol than usual.
  • Distancing yourself from people, withdrawing from social situations where you need to talk to people.
  • Increase in complaints or conflict at work.

There are things you can do to take care of yourself to ensure that you are able to keep up the meaningful work that you’re doing now and into the future. 

5 Tips for Self Care
Here are some tips for creating and maintaining a self-care routine:

1. Find the Time
The day-day demands of life can become overwhelming and we may feel that we have little control over how we spend our time. Do an inventory of how you spend the hours of each day for one week. You may be surprised at how much spare time you actually have, focus on the things you choose to do and those which you must do. A good way to measure this is by the consequences of not doing them.

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Counselling, what’s it all about?

What Is Counselling?
Counselling sessions provide a comfortable and safe environment where you can talk openly without judgement about what is happening for you. The counsellor does not label you or give a diagnosis. People often use counselling to speak about common life stressors, e.g. relationships or workplace stress or to learn how to reach life goals.

What Happens in a Counselling Session?
During the first appointment, the counsellor will aim to hear and understand what is happening in your life and what you may want to achieve from counselling. You decide what you want to focus on in the sessions and the counsellor will work with you to find approaches that may help you. Through counselling, you will receive support as you try new strategies or approaches. The counsellor will never instruct you if you are trying to make a decision about something, however they will discuss your options and help you decide what approach is going to work best for you.

What if I don’t feel a connection or “like” my counsellor?
It is important that you get the greatest benefit possible from your session so that may mean providing feedback and seeking a different counsellor to move forward with.

Making an Appointment
Making an appointment is as easy as telephoning 1800 818 728 during business hours, Monday-Friday 8am-6pm AEST. Calls will be answered by our Client Services Team. 24/7 assistance is also available for urgent counselling. When phoning us for the first time, an employee will need to provide the following information:

• Their name, their employer, and a few contact details
• Whether they would like to book a standard appointment or if they need immediate assistance.
• If they have any preferences in relation to the counsellor e. g., gender, age, specialisation.
• Location preference if sessions are face-to-face*. Phone, chat or video sessions are also available.

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Counselling myths

MYTH 1 - What about Confidentiality? Someone will find out, my boss and colleagues will know.

Although the EAP counselling sessions are paid for by your employer, the counsellors are independent and anything you discuss with a counsellor is confidential unless; there is a risk of harm to you or someone else or disclosure is required by law. While we do need to collect a few details from you when booking your first appointment, your personal information is kept confidential. AccessEAP has refused to work with organisations who cannot accept our confidentiality code of conduct. Your organisation respects the privacy and confidentiality of the services provided to you to improve your wellbeing.

MYTH 2 - If I have a problem my friends and family will talk/help me through it.

Although you may receive support from family and friends one difference between speaking with a counsellor and a close friend is that the counsellor has a broad knowledge and understanding of human behaviour. Sometimes it also just helps to speak with someone objective who isn’t emotionally involved with you or the situation.

MYTH 3 - I should see a counsellor only if things get really bad.

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Spend smart this festive season

Here are 6 tips to make sure you don’t blow your budget!

1. Actually, have a budget!
We rarely sit down and work out what our Christmas budget is. Make a list of everyone you need to purchase a gift for and then estimate your spend. Check this against your budget to make sure you can afford it.

2. Don’t charge to a credit card
Save for Christmas expenses by putting money in a Christmas savings account or buying a $10 gift card each week to spend on Christmas.

3. Secret Santa
Arrange a secret Santa present for family members to avoid having to purchase many smaller, less expensive presents. Giving gift cards means the receiver of the gift can get even more value at the post-Christmas sales.

4. Make thoughtful gifts yourself
Gifts such as photo collages or family calendars are so personal and make great keepsakes. You can create these in the comfort of your own home saving you time and money.

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New AccessEAP CEO appointed

AccessEAP is delighted to announce the appointment of Fiona Mackenzie as CEO, commencing 1st February 2022

We are pleased to announce that Fiona Mackenzie has been appointed the new CEO of AccessEAP. An experienced business leader, Fiona will succeed Sally Kirkright and assume responsibilities on the 1st of February 2022. After 11 years as CEO, and successfully leading the growth of AccessEAP to become a leading EAP provider in Australia and New Zealand, Sally has decided to take a sabbatical and will be relocating to country Victoria.

Fiona brings more than 20 years senior leadership experience across multiple industry sectors including Financial Services, Aged Care, Human Services and Business Consulting. This experience includes her current role with Anglicare, a respected for-purpose business, where she is currently Executive General, Manager Customer Strategy and Retirement living.

AccessEAP Chairman Greg Mackay said that Fiona was chosen after an extensive and thorough search and recruitment process. “Fiona is an outstanding choice, bringing experience from financial services, consulting and for-purpose organisations and is well-positioned to help us continue our current strategic journey and be aligned to the culture and values of our business” he said.

While at Anglicare, Fiona re-engineered Retirement Living sales capability to be more agile, professional, data-driven and technology-enabled. “Fiona will bring proven abilities to deliver transformational change in response to changing business environments. Our mission, to help create mentally healthy thriving workplaces and communities, is more important than ever before as we continue to support organisations manage the people challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Fiona holds an MBA (Exec) and Graduate Certificate in Change Management from AGSM, a Bachelor of Economics from Macquarie University and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Staying Calm & Connected, where to start?

As we approach the December period and prepare for the festivities, it’s easy to become distracted with long ‘to-do’ lists; calendars booked up with extra social events whether that be socially distanced or virtually; and perhaps finalising work in preparation for a well-earned break. These distractions can impact on our relationships with the people we care about most, so here are some tips for maintaining positive relationships during the festive season.

1. Take Time to be Present: During busy periods, it’s so easy to be on auto-pilot and not notice the passage of time. Stop yourself from just going through the motions by paying attention to the moment. Observe without judgement the sounds, smells, sights, and people around you.

2. Acknowledge Feelings First: When someone you care about is upset, you may find yourself offering them solutions only to have them become more upset. Consider whether, in trying to fix the problem, you’ve forgotten to first show you understand why it’s upsetting for them. Studies show that understanding another person’s emotions is key to maintaining effective relationships.

3. Give Compliments: You may be confident that the people you care about are fully aware of your positive feelings about them and there is no need to tell them. Don’t leave them guessing. Tell the important people in your life the things that you like or love about them, often.

4. Re-connect: Consider when was the last time you connected with someone important in your life that you don’t see often. Do you know what they did yesterday or what their plans are today? Take the time to call, send a message, or visit if you can, someone you have lost touch with.

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Men's Health, breaking the stigma - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

This is the month of Movember – named because men around Australia are encouraged to grow moustaches to draw awareness to and raise funds for men’s mental health, suicide prevention, as well as their physical health. Over the years Movember has become a leading charity helping to change the approach to men’s wellbeing. Their aim is to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25% by 2030.

Awareness around Men’s health needs improvement. In Australia, men under 75 are twice as likely as women to die from preventable causes (Falster & Jorm, 2017), and in 2019 men accounted for more than 75% of all suicide deaths (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020). At AccessEAP we have over many years cultivated a culture of acceptance, openness and welcoming of vulnerability for all our staff, and, in this month of November, I am proud to see this reflected in the attitudes and interactions I observe in the men who work here. We are aware that there is much still to be done to encourage men in organisations we work with to reach out for assistance, especially mental health support.

How can you help the men you work or live with to focus on their wellbeing? Positive Psychology has some answers. You can encourage all staff to complete the free PERMAH survey. This will result in your people receiving a set of results that highlight their strengths. Research supports that working with our strengths, rather than focusing on improving weaknesses, can be a an effective way to improve wellbeing and effectiveness. And at an organisational level, we can help you work with the PERMAH results. Also effective is encouraging and having conversations around mental health and wellbeing, particularly men’s wellbeing during November. Leading by example, leaders who are more open about their feelings and who don’t need to always be seen to have the answers, or be right, are seen as authentic and encourages others to be more open.  

As I consider, our culture at AccessEAP, I see every day the benefits for all staff of bringing a strengths-based approach to work and life. I also see how a culture of inclusivity of diversity enriches our workplace in so many ways. It helps us all think more broadly, more creatively, and act more compassionately. It helps us challenge assumptions, include differences of opinion, and highlights our value proposition of “making a difference”.  

I am proud to be a part of this organisation and proud of the work we do to support your people to be the best they can be in life and work. For more information and tips to help men reach out in times of need, click here.

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Men's Health - Reach out

Visit the Movember website for additional resources

November is a big month for Men's Health, with Movember spanning across the whole month and International Men's Day on the 19th. Both initiatives are all about promoting men's health and wellbeing, encouraging men to get the support they need. One of the biggest challenges for many men in Australia is opening up and having better conversations that can help with health and wellbeing. It’s about looking after the body and mind and knowing who to talk to that will be able to listen and understand.  

The great thing about having a chat is that we can get it out of our head and find ways to deal with what’s stressing us. Having that conversation early on can mean that we deal with something in the moment and stop it from escalating into something bigger. We all need to recognise what is going on in our lives so we can work out how to best deal with our stresses, emotions or worries. Just as a football coach would help develop a footballer’s skills on the field, AccessEAP can help coach you to develop your own coping strategies, ways of thinking and how to work through tough times. These are life skills that can be learned and used when needed.

Here are some tips to help men reach out in times of need:

  • Take action sooner rather than later. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today when it comes to your mental health.
  • Just having a conversation is positive for your mental health. It is not a sign of weakness.
  • Maintain social contactkeep in touch with family and friends. Try a new sport, activity with others which is good for physical health and social connection. Sporting clubs are often just meeting places where playing the sport is a bonus.
  • Make looking after yourself a priority. Set goals for sleep, exercise and time out, whether that be fishing, football, reading. You can’t look after those around you if you can’t look after yourself.
  • Remember that the best health can be achieved by looking after both your physical and mental health. See your GP for regular check-ups and address health issues if and when they present.
  • Ask for help. Challenging life events happen to us all at some point; no one is immune. Has your loved one or partner suggested you get some help? They may have noticed you are not yourself. Listen to them, call or email us or connect via AccessChat.  Equipping yourself with the tools and strategies you need to cope with life’s events can be learned. Start with your EAP and a confidential appointment to start kitting up.

For more information or to book an appointment, call us on 1800 818 728 or visit our website, www.accesseap.com.au.

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Raise Awareness

We're here to help

Supporting your organisation to respond to
Domestic and Family Violence during the pandemic and moving forward

25th November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with White Ribbon Day being observed on Friday, 19th November.

At AccessEAP we strongly support these awareness days, particularly with the severity and frequency of domestic violence reported increasing as a result of the pandemic. Often the workplace is known to provide a safe place for victims of domestic and family violence. Working from home and other restrictions has increased isolation and the natural circuit breaker that leaving the home provides for both victim and perpetrator. Organisations have a vital role to play by raising awareness of this issue, understanding when and how to offer support, and addressing attitudes in the workplace, which perpetuate violence against women.

How we can support you

At AccessEAP, we are sensitive to the complexities of Domestic and Family Violence and encourage you to reach out for support especially at this difficult time given the unique pressures created by the pandemic.

 

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Men's Health this November

November is the month of the moustache! Movember is about supporting and encouraging positive mental health behaviours for men. It is an opportunity for us to help men destigmatise accessing mental health support (read more in our attached tools, Reducing Stigma in the Workplace and Men, it's time to start talking). Our own experience demonstrates that men are traditionally less likely to seek help and less likely to engage in wellbeing initiatives. Men can be reluctant to ask for help – we sometimes think we should have all the answers – but it’s OK to say you need help with your wellbeing. Get started supporting Men’s Wellbeing this November with the launch of our new learning module.

New Men’s Wellbeing module

This module can be run for your people face to face, virtually, or as a pre-recorded webinar. The topic is aimed at a male audience or anyone who wants to understand how to positively support men’s wellbeing. Attendees will learn:

  • what men’s wellbeing is about,
  • how to help men seek support,
  • a framework to impact on wellbeing,
  • how to access services.

If you have any questions or require support, please reach out to your Relationship Manager or call 1800 818 728.

 

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Be kind to your mind - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

World Mental Health Day is this October 10th, and the 2021 theme is “Look Up, Look Out & Look Forward"

This year, of course, we have had the stress of COVID and the uncertainty created by lockdowns as a background to all the usual ups and downs of living, along with reading and seeing the regular reports of world events. I certainly need time out for me in the midst of all of this so I can recharge my mental and physical batteries to remain an effective, empathetic leader and a support to my friends and family.

But how do we take time out when we feel so many demands on our time? There are little things we can do every day – and those little things can add up to feeling and being healthier and more resilient in mind and body.

Keeping a routine comes top of my list. Things like going to bed and getting up at around the same time every day helps establish good sleep. Making time for exercise, catching up with friends - FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, calls, texts (or face-to-face if possible) - and doing things that are just plain fun are important for all of us so we can move away from constantly doing and thinking about work or worrying about things we can’t change.

On the topic of having fun, putting together a feel-good toolkit is a great investment in feeding your wellbeing. When you’re in need, you can go to your feel-good toolkit for an emotional lift. It might contain a list of your favourite comforting music, a soft cushion to lie on, a chocolate treat, essential oils, an inspirational book, or a list of quotes. We can be creative about how we can help ourselves feel good. Along the same lines, we can look for the good. It’s important to counterbalance the heavy information with the hopeful. There’s still so much good and beauty in the world if we choose to pay attention to it. And try forgiving others and accepting yourself. I know it’s easier said than done. But acknowledging many people are on edge at the moment, for similar reasons that you may also be feeling on edge, can help us find the ability to move on when in the past we might have reacted. Similarly, acknowledging the stresses we are living with can help us find self-acceptance and self-forgiveness when we act in ways we later regret.

When checking in on those around us, there are certain signs to watch out for and things you can do if you notice a change, see our Mental Health Awareness Wellbeing Tool which explains this further. It's important that we look after and be kind to ourselves and others after such a long year.

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Mental Health Awareness - Wellbeing Tool

As a part of our Wellbeing in Focus Calendar Care theme, we released a Mental Health Awareness Tool that we think is even more important this World Mental Health Day.

Like our physical health, there are signs that we are not emotionally 100%, and we can observe those signs in friends and colleagues. When we feel some of the symptoms of poor mental health, the earlier we intervene, the better our recovery.

Download the below Wellbeing Tool for:

  • Signs to look out for
  • What to do when you notice these changes
  • & How to help others

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AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away
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indig_flags.jpg

AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away.