Mental health removing the barriers to care

Published in miVision Magazine on 20th July, 2018

Marcela Slepica, Clinical Services Director, at AccessEAP says, “Healthcare organisations need to tackle these unique challenges their employees face, including patient care and mortality, workplace stress and worryingly, a stigma around asking for support with their mental wellbeing.”

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Five tips for HR to help staff combat stress

Published in HRD Magazine on 19th July, 2018

“While workplace stressors may be changing, its apparent from the data that the effects are relatively similar, with the same impacts on output,” according to Marcela Slepica, clinical services director at AccessEAP.

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Perfectionism and poverty: why musicians struggle with mental health

Published in The Guardian on 20th June, 2018

AccessEAP is very proud to be supporting this groundbreaking helpline for the music industry. The Support Act Wellbeing Helpline, is specifically tailored to the unique challenges faced by artists and music workers. It will be staffed by AccessEAP's network of professional counsellors who will offer expertise in all areas related to mental health (e.g. depression, anxiety, addiction, suicidal ideation) as well as issues which can be mental health related (such as loneliness, relationship breakdown, financial worries, illness and workplace conflict). Read more

Customer Shout Out

We love to talk about it when our customers do something quite special. We will be using this space quarterly, to recognise achievements in workplace wellbeing. Often we will know about a particularly beneficial initiative undertaken by our customers as we are part of the project. However, if there is something you would like to share, please feel free to email info@accesseap.com.au with the subject line: Customer Shout Out.

Some recent examples are building the AccessEAP Ambassador Program, proactive Domestic Violence Policies, Workplace Wellbeing Challenges and more! Sharing these great initiatives is a wonderful way to recognise excellence and build on learnings.

 

Top 7 Tips for Happiness

In the 1970’s, when society was slower paced and all about flower power, Thich Nhat Hanh, famously said "There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way". Unfortunately, now this seems like a throw away sentiment that we may find emblazoned on a t-shirt, but the message it sends actually runs far deeper than that. What Buddhist monks, and psychological theory, has been trying to express to us, is that the way we understand and accept ourselves and our environment, is far more influential on our experience of happiness, than the material things which we accumulate. In other words, each and every one of us has the ability to" live happiness" if we allow ourselves the freedom to do so. This in turn allows us to appreciate more fully, our work, our home, and our hobbies.

Here are a few tips to promote self-acceptance, resilience, and psychological flexibility:

1. Stop the comparisons!

When we take the time to stop and appreciate the people around us, and all the things we have already achieved, we open ourselves up to experiencing something wonderful. All too often, this wonder can be rapidly eroded when we compare ourselves to others who appear to be richer, stronger, faster, more beautiful (and the list goes on and on and on). So stop comparing! There will always be people who appear to have more "things" than we do. Constantly trying to catch up to them prevents us from living our own life to its fullest.

2. Commit to seeing life in a positive way.

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Food for thought or thoughtful food?

No one wants to be told what to eat. It takes us back to our childhood, memories of “you can’t leave the table until you have eaten your greens” or “your hair will go curly if you eat your crusts”. Unfortunately the take home message with these statements can often lead to unhealthy relationships with food and body image.

When we talk about diet and nutrition at AccessEAP, our focus is on your mental health and wellbeing. We know that what we eat has direct impacts on people’s emotional resilience, and our intention is to help people achieve an optimal level of wellbeing. Australia’s Deakin University recently conducted pioneering research into this and found that diet has direct links to depression.

Eating a poor quality diet can increase the risk for common mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Eating highly processed food has been associated with a smaller hippocampus – a critical part of the brain that is responsible for learning and memory, as well as regulating mood.  It can also encourage a constant, low level of inflammation throughout the body. These are risk factors for mental illness, and gut bacteria may play a role in the regulation of mood. Omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish, appear to be helpful for people suffering from quite serious depression. Similarly, there are studies starting to emerge to suggest that zinc or vitamin B supplementation may be helpful for some.1 

As employers and leaders more and more we find ourselves in the all encompassing workplace wellbeing space. There is an expectation that workplaces will provide healthy solutions in a number of areas not traditionally considered to be an employer's responsibility.

With Food and Mood as our theme this month, how do we incorporate healthy eating options into the workplace without becoming the “food police”?

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Welcome to Newport & Wildman customers

As of the 1st of July, 2018 Newport & Wildman will be proudly part of AccessEAP. This marks an expansion of our EAP and workplace wellbeing services into Tasmania.

For our Newport & Wildman customers this will mean business as usual, Tony Newport and the clinical team will continue to provide local clinical services. Tony will also work in the business to ensure the unique relationship you have with Newport & Wildman will be retained in order to best meet your needs.

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Does your workplace have a 'macho' culture?

Published in HRD Magazine on 14th June, 2018

Male dominated workplaces can hold a ‘macho’ culture, where opening up is perceived as a sign of weakness or vulnerability, according to Marcela Slepica, Director of Clinical Services at AccessEAP.

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Ending the Normalisation of Harassment with Courageous Conversations

Harassment is defined by the Australian Human Rights Commission as unlawfully treating a person less favourably on the basis of particular protected attributes such as a person’s sex, race, disability or age. However, harassment can be so deeply engrained into workplace culture that it has become normal.

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Food & Mood Webinar

Webinar Date and Time:
Tuesday 24 July 11am – 11.30am
It is commonly accepted that there are direct links between physical health and food choices. There is now however also a growing body of evidence to demonstrate that the food we eat affects our mental health and plays a significant role in our overall wellbeing. This session aims to explore the mechanisms through which food choices impact on our brain function and mood. Conatct your Relationship Manager to book in or find out more. 

How to eat well on the clock

We all have the best intentions but eating well when we have time and budget constraints can really demotivate us. Here are some practical ways to eat well on the clock! Fail to prepare - prepare to fail. This may seem pretty harsh but it sums up the need to plan and prepare where food is concerned. 
 
Some simple meal planning and preparation can help keep you safe from the temptation of fast foods. Knowing you have a nutritious and delicious meal in the work fridge will keep you going, save you $$$ and potentially your waistline. Here is a great recipe for Baked Beans from Melinda Overall. You can find this and other recipes on the Overall Nutrition blog
 
Try taking these baked beans to work, heated on a piece of wholegrain sourdoughbread. Add some ham off the bone, shaved parmesan or even a side of sliced avocado or tomato. These baked beans are good. Whenever. Any season. Any meal. Happy baking of beans.
 
About the beans:
Beans (legumes) are a rich source of vegetarian protein and also an excellent source of dietary fibre that helps to lower cholesterol, supports digestive health and prevents unnecessary spikes in the blood glucose levels (they are low GI). They also provide antioxidants, plenty of B group vitamins and a range of minerals.

What you need:

375g dried white beans ( you can use whatever beans you like…haricot, cannellini, aduki beans..they all work)…soaked overnight and rinsed.

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (I used big ones)
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 tin organic diced tomatoes
500ml stock (I used vegetable stock)…you may need a little extra later
3-4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari sauce
Sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional)
Goodly pinch of Celtic sea salt … don’t be shy
Good sprinkle of white pepper

Method:

In a large heavy based pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic and carrot until the onion is translucent. Whilst still on the heat add the beans, tomatoes and stock. As that bubbles away add all the other ingredients and stir well.

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We appreciate your feedback

Thank you to all our customers who took the time to respond to our March 2018 Customer Satisfaction Survey. We are pleased to report that approximately 90% of respondents were very satisfied by the timeliness of responses to customer requests and needs.  As always the real benefit of the survey is in highlighting areas for improvement.

There have been a number of changes in our Relationship Management area with a focus on Customer Experience. Additional resources have been added to the structure and we are very excited about delivering some innovative new approaches to our customer support services. 

Your support and honest feedback is truly respected and appreciated. We at AccessEAP look forward to continuing to provide best practice EAP service to you and your employees.

Feel free to provide feedback at anytime via our website or email info@accesseap.com.au

How to make a real change?

We live in a society where alcohol is a socially acceptable drug and form of relaxation but what happens when excess becomes a problem? Support is available via counselling or training through your EAP.

The reasons that people consume alcohol and drugs are varied however the misuse of these substances is common and can have harmful consequences for your mental health and wellbeing. All alcohol and drug use (including legally prescribed drugs) causes some change to brain chemistry, although the risks and effects of this are different for each person.

One way to identify whether your own alcohol and/or drug use is having a harmful effect on you is by the impact it’s having on your life. It can sometimes be difficult to notice the effects, especially if the changes have been gradual or you have found ways to adjust. However, make a note of how often you have experienced any of the following as a result of alcohol or drug use:

  • · Unable to attend work
  • · Missed important events or activities
  • · Feel uncomfortable around people
  • · Friends or family have expressed concerns
  • · Intentional self-harm
  • · You felt unsafe, or were harmed by someone
  • · Experiencing a lot of conflict, or strained relationships
  • · Financial stress due to the cost of substance use
  • · Unable to concentrate or remember things
  • · You harmed someone else or caused damage to property
  • · Physical injury or health issues
  • · Unable to function day-to-day e.g. sleeping or eating

TIPS FOR MINIMISING HARM

  1. Take regular breaks from using alcohol or drugs
  2. Keep a limit on how much you consume at any one time
  3. Find a healthy solution to the stresses in your life
  4. Keep away from people or activities that encourage alcohol or drug misuse
  5. Ask friends or family for support with these changes

If you are concerned about the impact that drug and alcohol use is having on your life, our free and confidential counselling service may be able to assist you to identify strategies for making some positive changes.

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A little less conversation a little more action - CEO Feature - Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

The late, great Elvis Presley wasn’t singing about improving mental health support for men but it certainly sums up what many men are looking for, according to research conducted by Sydney University’s School of Psychology1

The research found that men tend to want an idea of how treatment is going to work from the outset, a structured plan for working towards recovery, the power to gain skills that help them deal with depression and to feel in control of their lives.

Men account for two thirds of all suicides, have higher rates of substance abuse, and are the main perpetrators of violence against their partners. We see in our own data that men are also much less likely to seek support services such as counselling. This is often attributed to the stigma associated with seeking help. One of the most common findings from research to date is that men believe that showing any form of vulnerability equates to weakness. The reasons for this are likely to stem from the societal expectations that have been assigned to men. Traditional ideas of masculinity expect men to be stoic, invulnerable, and reject displays of emotion.

In my view these expectations are unrealistic as we are all human and humans have feelings, no one is immune. Some common myths about counselling are that you will talk for an entire session about emotion, it’s just a big ‘talk fest’ and how will talking help? Some believe that you have to talk about your childhood and not everyone wants to do that. It is important to help men understand that counselling is talking but there is a goal, there are objectives, strategies which are decided and counsellors do talk to help men understand feelings. In counselling, an individual only talks about what they want, they do not need to talk about their childhood. It is uncomfortable to talk about feelings but like anything new it gets easier with practice.

Our role at AccessEAP is to assist the men in our workplaces, and our personal lives, so that they do not continue to struggle with emotion in silence. We do this by providing skills and education and breaking down stigma. In subscribing to old ideas of masculinity as a society, men are taught to be uncomfortable with emotion so they lack confidence to manage emotion, and perhaps even fear it.

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Men's Wellbeing

We often hear from men that they feel pressure to be seen as invulnerable, stoic, and fearless. This can lead to unrealistic expectations that as a man you should be able to cope no matter what, and “get on with it”. Emotions become synonymous with weakness and powerlessness. Men may also dismiss their feelings as unimportant and worry about burdening other people with their concerns.

Men experience emotions just as much as women do, however the pressure not to show emotion or vulnerability means that emotions will build-up and result in what appear to be random and unexpected behaviour. Reluctance to talk about or acknowledge emotion can manifest in all sorts of unhelpful ways including:

  •   Excessive alcohol use

  •   Addiction to gambling or betting

  •   Ending relationships prematurely

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Headspace resources for parents and schools, 13 Reasons Why, Season 2

In order to support parents in the workplace and people working in education, we are sharing some important information and resources made available by headspace, National Youth Mental Health Foundation. The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why caused a great deal of concern in the school and wider community about this time last year. Season 2 of the series was launched last Friday. The first series, based on the novel of the same name, revolves around the aftermath of a teenage girl’s suicide. This series is graphic, making real and distressing reference to suicide, self-harm and rape.

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Creating a workplace for all ages

Published in Telegraph on 1st May, 2018

Organisations need to prepare for how best to manage a diverse workforce and promote an inclusive inter-generational culture, explains Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP.

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Save time to make time

We have been gradually putting together a list of some ways to save time in our everyday lives. Not all will suit everyone but you may find one or two that can make a difference.

  1. Don’t procrastinate when it comes to tasks that can be done in under 5 minutes, just get up and do it. Putting it off can more than double the time spent.
  2. Make important decisions early in the day when you are fresh rather than trying to do this at the end of the day. Things take a lot longer when you are tired.
  3. Play an up tempo playlist to get you moving and up the pace when you are doing physical activities like showering, changing, brushing your teeth, cleaning the house or ironing. It can reduce boredom and add some fun.
  4. Keep distractions at bay – if you need to focus on a task turn off your sound notifications and put your phone out of sight. You will be a lot more efficient.
  5. Don't be available all the time. Check emails at intervals and attend to several, at a time, rather than responding to every message that pops up.
  6. Use an app that blocks your access to time-wasting websites. These maybe online shopping sites, travel sites, you tube or linked in. There are apps you can download that will temporarily block the sites that you know waste your time.
  7. Say no to invitations you don't actually want. Think about what you really want to do with your free time – don’t be rude but don’t say yes just to keep the peace.
  8. Always have a 'to-do' list. Prioritise the most important and dedicate time to focus on these tasks first. Tasks can be rated in terms of whether they save or make money, whether they have a deadline or whether they are critical to other things happening.
  9. Automate as many of your daily tasks as possible so you can focus on bigger things. Online grocery shopping can be time consuming until you have your regular lists set up. Save time and money as you are less likely to be tempted by impulse buys. Meal delivery services are free to join and can be suspended for lengthy periods. They aren’t cheap but may help you get through a particularly busy few weeks. Check out what bills and payments you can automate safely. Make sure you still reconcile at the end of a set period so you keep on top of expenses.
  10. Consume your audio while you do activities that don't require a lot of concentration, like cooking or cleaning. Podcasts, ebooks, even making some phone calls where you know you will be on hold for a period of time.
  11. Avoid sitting at the computer without a plan for what you are going to do there. Your free time can disappear very quickly. Try to put a time limit on how long you are going to spend on Facebook or researching a car, holiday, phone plan etc.

Let us know what works for you by emailing info@accesseap.com.au. We will share tips in upcoming newsletters.

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 your job

  •   Adopting a negative view of people in general.

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Mindfulness your way - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

Mindfulness, a practice based in Buddhist tradition, continues to be a hot topic and has gained increasing popularity as an effective technique for managing and reducing stress. Many of our counsellors at AccessEAP integrate mindfulness-based strategies, as the results can often be seen and experienced relatively quickly. I think it’s important to point out that mindfulness is very effective but only when used as one of a number of strategies in a holistic approach toward improved wellbeing.

At times, mindfulness is very helpful and at other times it’s just not. When miindfulness works for me, I am truly focussed on the task at hand, engaged in the process, listening attentively, feeling in sync both mind and body and achieving results. Recent research has told us that for mindfulness techniques to work, we must have a methodology around when and how to apply it. Let me share an example from my personal experience. As the CEO of an expanding organisation that deals with the complexities of human emotions and behaviour, I am faced with multiple and competing demands on a daily basis. My job often requires that I: apply critical thinking to make an assessment; think ahead to future strategy; consider past learnings; and put contingencies and plans into place. When involved in these tasks it would not necessarily serve me well to pause and “pay attention to the present moment without judgement’, as the widely accepted definition of mindfulness advises.

At times, however, there are moments when I need to stop, pause and be present in order to be productive. It may be that thinking about the past, or the future or too many things at once, has me in a physical state of stress in which focus and clarity is not achievable at a particular moment in time. For me to notice unproductive stress, I need to be mindful. I need to observe that I am not thinking clearly, that I am overtaken by emotion, or that my body feels like I have just run a marathon. Beyond that, I then need to take conscious steps to be present. It is in these moments where mindfulness is my ally.

My message here is simple. It’s important to recognise that mindfulness is one of several tools that you will need to have in your resilience kit. When, where and how you use it determines its effectiveness – that’s mindfulness my way. Think about what mindfulness your way looks like.

Sometimes I need help to become mindful. I may be so caught up in my thoughts and only notice I am in a state of stress when someone asks if I am okay. At AccessEAP we have many services in place to encourage self awareness and self care. Mindfulness training can be tailored to particular needs or provide a more general introduction to the concepts. Coaching is also available for managers who feel they could benefit from one on one sessions in mindfulness.

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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
.

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.