BEHIND THE COUNTER Managing mental health in the workplace M aintaining employment can not only make us feel good about ourselves and help build confi- dence, but also give us a sense of purpose, which also helps to protect and improve our mental health. On the other hand, fac- tors like job stress, bullying or discrimina- tion can trigger a mental health condition or cause an existing condition to worsen. It is important to remember too that some people's experience of a mental health condition may have no direct connection with their work and theymay have managed their condition for several years. Equally, personal or relationship issues might result in someone developing a mental health con- dition, regardless of what is going on at work. Whatever the factors may be that con- tribute to someone developing a mental health condition, workplaces can play a key role in recovery by creating an envi- ronment where people feel comfortable raising their concerns and reaching out when they need it. Every business and organisation is different, therefore the approach to imple- menting a mental health policy needs to be tailored to each specific workplace. It is for this reason that the MGA TMA have created a specific area of its member website portal ( ) to cater for this area of workplace health. The portal not only provides important refer- ences and webinars, but also regularly updated information including: • Examples of good mental health. • How to create a mentally healthy workplace. • Mental health and small business owners. • How to look after your mental health as a small business owner. What does the term ‘mental health’ mean? The term ‘mental health’ is frequently misunderstood. It is often used as a sub- stitute for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety conditions and schizophrenia. However, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is, “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribu- tion to her or his community”. What is mental health in the workplace? When we talk about mental health in the workplace, we are often investigating how the business environment affects us – either positively or negatively – and how our mental health affects our abil- ity to conduct our jobs. There are several things an employer or employee can do every day to take care of their mental health including: • Exercising every day - A simple daily lunch time walk can often help main- tain a positive outlook on life. Fresh air and physical movement releases chemi- cals called endorphins, which interact with brain receptors and trigger posi- tive emotions. • Practice mindfulness - mindfulness means being aware of your reactions, feelings and thoughts as you have them. This helps you choose how to manage matters as they arise. Mindfulness is also a great tool to help lower stress and anxiety levels. • Adopt work/life boundaries - This means ensuring you maintain a healthy work/life balance. Set boundaries to ensure you have time for both work and a social life. This might include not discussing work related issues from 5pm Friday night to 8am Monday morning, because weekends are for family, friends and conducting activities that support your mental well-being. • Connect with others - Find someone such as a confidant or mentor who you can discuss personal or business issues with. Make sure this person is support- ive, a good listener and someone whose opinion you value. Mental health red flags It is important to know when your mental health may be declining and what to do if you experience any of the following red flags: • Physical signs – Including a constant knot in your stomach, tense neck and shoulders, feeling nauseous, heart palpi- tations or chest pains. • Changes in behaviour – Including suf- fering from insomnia, crying regularly, feeling moody or irritable most of the time, an increase or loss of appetite. • Unclear thinking - Not being able to make decisions, not understanding di- rections at work and losing the ability to focus on simple tasks. • Feeling sad or anxious regularly - We all have bad days which make us feel sad, but if you feel like your bad days outweigh your good days, you may need When discussing mental health in the workplace, we often look at how our working environments affect us - either positively or negatively - as well as the effect work environments have on our ability to do conduct our jobs properly. In this edition of Behind the Counter , MGA TMA Membership Manager Ann Sanfey, along with MGA TMA’s Legal and Industrial Relations – Workplace Relations Team, discusses how workplaces play a key role in creating an environment where employees feel comfortable enough to reach out if they are facing emotional struggles. 10 | AUSTRALIAN HARDWARE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2020