COREY Duggan knows what it's like to lose all hope.
He knows how day-to-day problems can start to feel overwhelming, and how hard it can be to speak up to ask for support.
He has been there.
He has struggled.
But he made it through.
"I have contemplated suicide a couple of times," he said. "But suicide isn’t the answer. It's never the answer.
"What helped me was just to talk. I never talked to anyone until afterwards. That’s when I opened up, because I thought, 'Shit, what am I doing?'"
The carpenter said he did not speak to his family about it at the time. He did not want to scare them, worry them, or "burden" them with his problems.
"It was really just my mates that helped me," he said.
"Having someone to talk to, having people there that will listen, and not judge.
"I did contact beyondblue, and they were great. But talking to someone in person, as opposed to someone over the phone, was completely different."
Mr Duggan, 26, said he had suffered mental and physical abuse in a previous relationship.
"When I do tell people about it, being a man, I typically get - 'What did you do?'
"I never went to the police about it. I thought the best thing I could do was just walk away, and try to forget about it."
But it had taken a toll on him mentally.
"To all the fellas going through a tough time who feel that if they talk, they’ll be labelled weak, I say - opening up might just save your life," he said. "Us blokes, we need help. There are too many of us killing ourselves.
"I have lost mates to suicide, and no one even knew they were struggling."
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 3,100 people died from intentional self harm in 2017.
Of those, 75 per cent were men.
Rob Sams, executive director of Lifeline Hunter, said the reasons for the higher rates of male suicide were "complex" and individual.
But men were also less likely to reach out for help, with one man for every three women accessing support services like Lifeline.
"The access to services is generally during work hours," Mr Sams said. "So if they are working, that can be a big barrier."
Mr Sams said as well as the 13 11 14 number - available 24 hours a day, every day - Lifeline has free face-to-face counselling services. They are run by qualified counsellors and/or psychologists at sites in Islington, Rutherford, Raymond Terrace, Belmont, Wyoming and Singleton. Lifeline also offers a chat and text service.
Most calls taken by Lifeline related to people feeling isolated, relationship problems, or stressful life events.
"We can listen, we can intervene if someone is suicidal, and we can refer - we can put you in touch with the right services available around the country and in our area," he said.
"We can't offer miracles, but we can offer hope."
Mental health is still a bit of a taboo topic in many workplaces however there is huge demand from employees who want their employer to champion #mentalhealth and well-being.
Mental health can have a serious impact on a business. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 80% of adults with depression reported at least some difficulty with work, home, or social activities because of their depression symptoms.
Unfortunately, disorders like anxiety and depression often go undetected for months or years. Unlike physical illnesses, mental health issues are more challenging to pinpoint.
Even though mental health can often be a taboo topic, especially in the workplace, it appears that employees want their employer to champion mental health and well-being. According to a survey of office workers in July 2018 from Peldon Rose:
After reviewing these findings, I wanted to learn more about how companies could help. So, I recently discussed this topic with Tomas Chamorro Premuzic, ManpowerGroup Chief Talent Scientist.
“One of the best ways to create a culture that supports mental health is to ensure people experience their jobs in a meaningful and purposefulway. This can be achieved by giving employees autonomy and resources. If your team experiences support and independence, and that you trust them to do what they ought to do, they will generally be happier at work, which will reduce the risk of mental health problems,” said Tomas.
“It’s also important that managers do not check out from their employees. People need guidance and direction from a leader so the worst thing you can do is disappear or be unapproachable; in fact, the worst and most stressful type of leaders are absent – leaving their employees without direction or feedback, and showing little concern and consideration for their staff. This harms morale and well-being,” according to Tomas.
While tackling mental health can be challenging, employers and HR professionals are in a powerful position to help change attitudes and offer a support system. Here are some tangible ways you can help your employees:
Give employees access to education and resources from national organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Companies can also develop their own initiatives and programs. For example, DuPont started an educational program to encourage employees to reach out to co-workers who appear to be in emotional distress. The company’s ICU campaign (which stands for Identifying, Connecting and Understanding, as well as “I See You”) includes a five-minute video that teaches employees how to ask appropriate questions when someone appears to be struggling.
Offer Training to Managers
Provide opportunities for managers to attend relevant training to support staff living with mental health problems and the well-being of all staff. There is a tendency in management to seek a one-size-fit-all solution, but the reality is that there are systematic differences in the way people act, think and feel. Managers need to understand that every employee is different. “Being a good manager is to a great degree being able to decode what makes each of your employees unique and how to manage this uniqueness. It is true that some people are very resilient and will need little support when things are not going well, while others will need your support and caring even during the good times,” said Tomas.
Encourage Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is an essential aspect of a healthy work environment and employers should offer flexible work options. Maintaining work-life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout in the workplace. Mental health charity Mind explains that flexible hours can provide a better work-life balance, greater control, a chance to avoid traffic, and the opportunity to attend medical appointments – all of which are important for those coping with mental illness. Researchshows that 33% of those with longer commutes (over 60 minutes each way) were more likely to suffer from depression. They are 40% more likely to have financial worries and 12% more likely to report issues due to work-related stress.
Develop Mental Health Policies
Without proper mental health policies in place, your company is missing out on a huge opportunity. For example, do you have policies to help prevent discrimination (including bullying and harassment) or prevent stigma around depression in the workplace? If you already have some policies in place, review your current policies and see if they can better support employees. Need a little more inspiration? Check out how Influence & Co. wrote an entirely new mental health policy and openly discussed it with their team.
Treat People Fair
According to Tomas, fairness is treating people like they want and deserve, rather than the same. For example, forcing everyone in your team to work in noisy or loud environments will suit the extraverts but tax the introverts; asking people to spend a great deal of time on creative brainstorming tasks will make your imaginative employees thrive while stressing out your conscientious implementers. Assuming that your employees share your values and preferences will create a climate of low diversity and inclusion, where people who feel different feel excluded and marginalized - all of which puts them at risks of health problems.
Provide Screening Resources
Employers can look out for their employees’ mental health by encouraging participation in free and anonymous online screenings. National Depression Screening Day is an excellent opportunity for employers to begin to address mental health issues in the workplace. Employers can encourage employees to visit HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org and complete the depression screening questionnaire.
Monitor Employee Engagement
Pay attention to engagement surveys (engagement is the opposite of burnout). Most large companies survey employees’ attitudes to see how they experience their work and jobs, but few are aware of just how important engagement is as a preventive factor of poor health issues. “Indeed, engagement is the best single metric of organizational well-being managers can extract. When people are engaged, they are enthusiastic, positive, and proud to be a member of the organization. All of these factors forecast positive well-being. In contrast, when people are disengaged they are at higher risk of burnout, stress, and alienation, all of which worsen people’s health,” explains Tomas.
Now, more than ever, it’s critical to educate employees about mental health resources to avoid burnout, mental breakdowns and reduce suicide risk. Companies who invest in the mental health of their people and foster open dialogue about mental health issues will also be creating a positive workplace and a place where people want to work. It’s a win-win.
Alan Kohll is the founder and president of health and wellness service provider, TotalWellness. Follow TotalWellness on LinkedIn and Twitter.
It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn't heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore's stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore.
"Hello Eeyore," said Pooh.
"Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet," said Eeyore, in a Glum Sounding Voice.
"We just thought we'd check in on you," said Piglet, "because we hadn't heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay."
Eeyore was silent for a moment. "Am I okay?" he asked, eventually. "Well, I don't know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That's what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. Which is why I haven't bothered you. Because you wouldn't want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now."
Pooh looked and Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.
Eeyore looked at them in surprise. "What are you doing?"
"We're sitting here with you," said Pooh, "because we are your friends. And true friends don't care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are."
"Oh," said Eeyore. "Oh." And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better.
Because Pooh and Piglet were There. No more; no less.
Click As we come to Christmas, take a step back and think about what "Christmas" means. It's not about gifts, it's not about "pigging out" or having a good time by getting "pissed".
It should be about people. About being kind to each other. About mutual respect. About thinking of others. About kindness.
Let's move away about our wants, and look at our needs.