Stronger Together with IMPACT's Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Today Tanya takes a look at mental health ahead of Mental Health Week

Queensland Mental Health week is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. As a workplace, IMPACT Community Services values the mental health and wellbeing of our people. We aim to create a safe space by sharing our stories, encouraging self-care practice, and providing opportunities for debriefs and check in’s just to remind each other that we care.

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Supporting and encouraging mental health within the workplace is now common practice, with a significant shift in society’s attitudes paving the way for greater acceptance of mental health problems and increased support being provided to people who may be experiencing some issues. Some workplaces have developed their own internal resources and frameworks for increasing mental health awareness within their business, whilst others rely on the vast array of free resources available online.

The Queensland Government’s ‘Dear Mind’ draws inspiration from the Wheel of Wellbeing, sharing tips and information linked to health, learning, kindness, connection, taking notice and nature. The site also assists individuals to create an activity deck, a highly personalised selection of activities tailored to support and improve mental wellbeing.   

A wealth of resources

Today, we have choice and opportunities available to take charge of our personal mental wellbeing. The resources available online provide great inspiration and suggestions for how to get started. Yet, many people recognise the benefit and know where to find the information but have done nothing about it. Now I say this with compassion and not judgment as I completely understand that people are time poor and may be left wondering, ‘Who has time to fit something else into their day?’

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My personal belief is that we need to make the time. We owe it to our partner, our kids, our family, our friends. Most importantly, we owe it to ourselves. On a plane, the flight attendant will always remind us to put our own oxygen mask on first before assisting others. If you have not got it on already, the time has come to put on that oxygen mask. Lalah Delia suggests that ‘dself-care is how you take your power back’. Power comes from taking back control over your choices and where you spend your time and energy. Power comes from taking care of yourself first.

Time for action

To achieve this, we need to take action. So, to get started, consider focusing on one thing that really matters to you. One of my goals was to establish a consistent morning routine that would enable me to be in control of how I set myself up for my day. Realistically, this is a huge goal and felt so incredibly overwhelming that it took time for me to take any action. After a while, I decided to chunk it down into some smaller goals that felt more realistic and achievable, with a focus on doing one thing at a time until it became automatic.

My one thing that mattered to me was to stop looking at my phone when waking in the morning. It mattered because I am aware that within the first eight minutes of waking up, our brain is more flexible, providing a great opportunity to take control of this time and feed our minds with positive information. Checking text messages, social media accounts and scrolling through emails during this time will instead hand this control over to someone else. Doing this each day might sound simple, however it took some time to break my pattern, decide on what I wished to focus on for that eight minutes and necessitated the phone being moved into another room while sleeping to avoid the temptation to check it. However, it eventually became automatic, and once achieving that goal, I set a new goal and when it became automatic, I set another. After many years and lots of experimenting, I have found a morning routine that works for me and incorporates self-care practices that effectively support my personal mental health.  

Mental health week

Queensland Mental Health Week (October 10 to 18) is the perfect opportunity to start doing that one thing that will support you. Whatever you decide to do, remember what works for someone else may not work for you. Keep experimenting and do not give up until you find that one thing that matters to you, and then be consistent and practice it daily. If you forget to do it, be kind to yourself and pick it up again the next day. Above all, be persistent, hold that one thing tight and remind yourself why you are doing this. It’s not selfish to make time for your mental health. You are worth it.