Choose Life and Positive Connections - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

Australian research consistently tells us that there are two major differences between men and women in regard to mental health outcomes. One is that men are far more likely to complete suicide. The other is that men are around twice as likely as women to be experiencing a substance use disorder, including alcohol and other drugs.

Both of these trends are concerning, as they suggest men will respond to emotional distress in ways that are highly destructive to themselves and those around them. It appears that men are more likely to seek solutions to difficult emotional experiences which lead to them acting impulsively, and placing themselves and others at risk of harm. The harmful effects of using alcohol1 and other drugs to manage emotions can include violence, aggression, accidental injury, and suicide attempts.

Men are far less likely than women to seek help, both from friends and professionals. While there has been progress, there is still an ongoing stigma around men asking for help. At AccessEAP we are working at breaking down the stigma and suggesting ways in which we can better support men to manage their emotions in a more positive way. It seems that many men don’t see the value in talking about their problems. Male friends of mine will say “talking about it won’t change anything”. They are right. Talking alone does not make the situation better but is a step in the right direction, keeping feelings inside does not make them go away.

Our aim at AccessEAP is to engage men in healthy solution-focused strategies. The benefits of talking to a counsellor are in the practical tools and solutions that can then be explored. The first step is to acknowledge the painful or negative emotions, but this is not where counselling stops. The next important step is to look at what has been tried and tested, and uncover new or different ways of managing a situation.

If you are concerned about a man that you work with or a man in your personal life, here are some tips and suggestions:

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Food and Mood - trust your gut - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

When we think of the personal impact of our diet and food intake, we typically focus on our physical health, and on our body shape or weight. Until recently, less thought has been given to the effect that the foods we consume may have on our moods and emotional wellbeing. However, this has now become an area of increasing interest and research.

The gut, or gastrointestinal system, has been coined by researchers as our “second brain”, due to the complex way in which this part of our body influences our wellbeing and communicates back and forth with our brain. These messages are much more sophisticated than our gut telling our brain that we are hungry or our brain triggering the release of saliva and stomach acids after seeing or smelling what it anticipates will be a tasty treat.

It appears that the gut also plays a very important role in regulating our emotional system. The fact that there are links between the gut and our emotional states is not new. You are probably familiar with phrases such as “I have butterflies in my stomach” or “I just have a gut feeling”. It is well established that if we are in a mental state of depression and anxiety, this can have physical manifestations such as diarrhoea, nausea, and changes in appetite.

Research around the impacts of our diet on our moods suggests however that the relationship between the gut and our mental wellbeing is bi-directional, that is, our gut can also have a specific influence on our emotional states. Studies have shown, for example, that patients with diagnosed clinical depression experience an improvement in subjective mood when receiving a healthy diet combined with counselling, as compared with those who only received counselling.

Take pause and think about how you feel before and after eating certain foods. Notice the impact not only on your energy levels but also whether you feel able to focus, whether you have a good nights’ sleep, and your general sense of wellbeing. The relationship between our gut health and our emotional wellbeing is complex, however being mindful and aware of how you are responding to your food choices appears to be a step in the right direction.

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Tips for Dealing with Worry and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are an everyday part of the busy family and work lives we lead. The way we recognise our responses to stress and anxiety and how we manage these emotions directly effects how quickly we can navigate periods of higher stress and steer a course to overall wellbeing.

  • Watch your thinking. Beware of “What ifs” and a tendency to assume the worst in your mind. This is called catastrophic thinking. For example, a simple negative comment about one aspect of your work could trigger “What if my manager is not happy with me… I am performance managed…. I lose my job… I can’t pay the mortgage….” This leads to a lot of unnecessary fear and anxiety.
  • Try not to focus on or visualise the “What ifs” playing out in your mind. Research shows that revisiting it over and over does not prepare you for the worst case scenario in any way and chances are you are focused on things that may never eventuate. In fact, greater than 90% of these things never actually happen. • How likely is it that your worst case scenario will actually happen? Think through this objectively (or ask a “chilled out” friend).
  • Focus on the NOW, not the past or the future. Watch your body Anxiety tends to impact everyone’s body differently. Do you get an upset stomach, a tense neck? Other signs of stress and anxiety?
  • Do a simple relaxation - close your eyes and scan through your body from your head to toes, relaxing the muscles in each area, letting them be loose and heavy. If you deliberately relax your body it will give your brain the message that it does not need to continue to send out ‘stress’ hormones and both your body and mind will calm down. Plan your worries
  • Set aside 15 minutes a day ‘worry time’. If you find yourself worrying about the same things over and over again and not making any problem solving progress try restricting your worries to a set time. When it is finished, leave them aside until the next day. If you start to worry during the day, jot down the topic and leave it for your ‘worry time’.
  • Write down your ideas for’ problem solving’ whatever issue is causing your worries. If after 5 minutes of thinking about them again you cannot add anything new to the list tell yourself: “I’m not achieving anything new now. I’ll revisit this when I can add something to my problem solving list”.

Some relevant websites: • Australian Centre for Post-Traumatic Mental Health • Anxiety Treatment Australia • Shyness and Social Anxiety Treatment Australia  • Beyondblue  • Black Dog Institute

Australian workers name conflict as major issue

AccessEAP has released data showing conflicts with managers and colleagues are two of the top 10 issues facing Australians workers.

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Published in Facility Management 15th June, 2017

Half of all Australian men will have a mental health problem at some point in their life and one in eight will experience depression, yet they are far less likely to open up about what is affecting them ...

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How to reduce stress in the workplace

OHS Professional eNews August 2014

Work related stress is the most common workplace issue in Australian workplaces, and OHS professionals should work to raise awareness about this issue and gain support from managers to address concerns, according to corporate psychology firm AccessEAP.

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Consumers are being hit by post-holiday debt stress in the new year

Published on News.com.au, February 2017

Holiday season has officially come to an end and normal life has returned, along with its every day challenges and stresses.

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Supporting your employees during the tragedy of the Melbourne CBD incident

Traumatic events such as the shooting and car rampage in Melbourne CBD disrupt lives physically and psychologically, creating intense emotional distress for individuals, families and whole communities. Organisations play a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting their employees and their families in the immediate aftermath and in the days, weeks and months following this tragic event.

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How to deal with difficult people in the workplace

Published on Business First Magazine, December 2016

Most of us would have come across a difficult person at some point in our lives and most likely it has happened in the workplace.

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Christmas is not a merry time for all

Published on Workplace OHS, December 2016

Christmas is painted as a joyous, busy time for everyone, with gift giving, parties and holidays, however, for some people, the festive season is a time of emotional stress, sadness and difficulty.

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How should workplaces prepare for victims of domestic abuse?

Published on Sydney Morning Herald, December 2016

Many Australians affected by domestic abuse are part of a workplace. But what stand should a workplace take to curb the effects of what has been described as a "national social crisis".

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Christmas is not a merry time for all

Published on Daily Bulletin, December 2016

Christmas is painted as a joyous, busy time for everyone, with gift giving, parties and holidays, however, for some people, the festive season is a time of emotional stress, sadness and difficulty.

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How to take care of others over the festive season

Published on HC Online, December 2016

There has been an increase in the number of people who are seeking professional counselling services for depression and suicidal ideation this month, according to AccessEAP, a corporate psychology organisation which supports and develops positive organisational behaviour.

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Does your workplace ignore domestic violence?

Published by Workplace OHS, November 2016

In the lead up to White Ribbon Day, workplaces are being urged to not turn a blind eye to domestic violence and rethink it as a workplace issue.

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Paranoia holding back flexible work; and more

Published by HR Daily, November 2016

“Perception paranoia” the biggest work from home barrier

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Workplaces urged to implement domestic violence policies

Published by Facility Management, November 2016

Economic considerations are one of the determining factors in whether a woman will leave or return to an abusive relationship, making it crucial for companies to develop policies in order to support staff experiencing domestic violence with paid employment.

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Workplaces and the victims of domestic abuse

Published by Safe to Work, November 2016

Economic considerations are one of the determining factors in whether a woman will leave or return to an abusive relationship, making it crucial for companies to develop policies in order to support staff experiencing domestic violence with paid employment.

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Ensure managers act on reports of domestic violence

Published by OHS Alert, November 2016

In the lead up to White Ribbon Day on 25 November, employers are being urged to implement domestic violence policies and ensure managers are prepared to take emergency action to keep employee victims safe.

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Men and mental health issues: What are the challenges?

Published by Human Resources Media Blog, November 2016

Greens senator Scott Ludlam announced last week that he’ taking leave to treat depression and anxiety. Here’s why HR needs to take men’s mental health issues seriously.

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Workplaces need to prepare for victims of domestic abuse

Economic considerations are one of the determining factors in whether a woman will leave or return to an abusive relationship, making it crucial for companies to develop policies in order to support staff experiencing domestic violence with paid employment.

Despite the common belief domestic violence is a private issue, the costs to the community suggest otherwise, with a 2015 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimating that violence against women costs $21.7 billion a year, with victims bearing the brunt of this cost.

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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.