08 July 2020   

10 minute read
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our way of living and working and understandably many of us are feeling stressed, anxious and confused. As more changes occur and restrictions are further eased, workplace wellbeing must be front and centre.

Being aware of how you and those around you are feeling is an important part of staying healthy and well during this challenging time. We’re sharing insights from two of our CARE Foundation partners – R U OK? and ReachOut – to help strengthen mental resilience and care for each other in this time of continued uncertainty.

The Stockland CARE Foundation brings together charity partners ReachOut, Redkite and R U OK? in a collaborative partnership to improve wellbeing in communities across Australia.

A webinar hosted by Group Executive and CEO, Commercial Property at Stockland, Louise Mason, CEO of ReachOut Australia, Ashley De Silva, and CEO of R U OK?, Katherine Newton, outlined the important work both charities do supporting people with mental health challenges. They shared some of the things they’ve been responding to, the communities they’ve been supporting and practical tips and advice on managing mental health and wellbeing. Ashley and Katherine discussed the uncertainty COVID-19 has brought and the importance of staying connected, listening to others and providing support to our families, our colleagues and our staff over the coming months.

Here are some practical tips to help manage your mental health and wellbeing and to look out for those around you as we all navigate these unprecedented times.

Katherine talked about recognising the signs that someone might be struggling. She made the point that life happens to all of us and sometimes we might be grieving, have a physical injury or we might be retiring, become a new parent or be going through a relationship breakdown and if we can normalise talking about those ‘down’s and look after one another when those things are happening, we can become the social scaffolding or the safety net for our peers.

Ashley spoke about how ReachOut has pivoted during COVID-19 to use data analytics as a means to understand the issues resonating with people. During the pandemic, the peer support section of ReachOut’s website, where young people and parents can share experiences, put their hand up and say I need support or provide each with support, has never been busier.

“It’s a difficult time but it’s good to see so many people making use of a digital space to stay connected and be asking for support,” said Ashley.

Staying connected in challenging times

  • Think about who in your world, personal or professional, might be struggling.
  • Make every day the day to ask ‘Are you okay?’
  • Communicate with people - make a phone call, send an SMS, video call, email or, if you can meet in person go for a walk together or catch up for a coffee. 

Taking care of yourself

  • Keep your daily routines as much as possible
  • Exercise regularly and do things that you enjoy and find relaxing
  • Seek practical, credible information about COVID-19 and what’s ahead
  • Seek support if you feel overwhelmed. 

How to ask someone if they are okay

It’s important we all do what we can to support our friends, family and colleagues in this time of ups and downs. As we adjust back to ‘normal’ life, there will be a period of transition when some people might feel anxious, exhausted or stressed.

Katherine said that it’s important to find pathways to help people. Sometimes people just need to be listened to without interruption and without judgement. But sometimes we have to ask people if they have thought about seeking help. Asking isn’t always easy but here are some tips on how to have a conversation:

Ask:

  • "How are you going?" or "What’s been happening?"
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them like "You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?"

Listen:

  • Take what they say seriously and don't interrupt or rush the conversation.
  • Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them.
  • Encourage them to explain: "How are you feeling about that?" or "How long have you felt that way?"
  • Show that you've listened by repeating back what you’ve heard and ask if you have understood them properly.

Encourage action:

  • “How would you like me to support you?"
  • Ask: “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”
  • You could say: "When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this... You might find it useful too."
  • If they've been feeling really down for more than two weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say, "It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I'm happy to assist you to find the right person to talk to.”
  • Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times. 
  • Check in - Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they're really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
  • Ask if they've found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven't done anything, don't judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
  • Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference. 

Want more information? Follow these links to more resources from our partners:

R U OK?

ReachOut

Redkite

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