Let me ask you a couple of questions.
Do you do some form of exercise or activity to try and stay physically healthy? My guess is that a lot of us will say ‘yes’!
One more question though, and it's potentially a harder one...
Do you do anything proactive to support your mental wellbeing? My guess is that a lot of us would say ‘not really’.
In my role as EGM People Services, asking “are you ok?” is part of the nature of my job, but it’s something we can all commit to do today, and every day.
Let’s agree that it’s ok to not be ok, and take proactive steps to prioritise our mental wellbeing the same way we prioritise the physical.
The mental wellbeing struggle is real
In 2020/21, the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted the first cohort of the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing. This study found that 15% of Australians were currently experiencing high, or very high, levels of psychological distress – with the results skewed higher in the younger generations. Over two in five Australian aged 16 to 65 reported experiencing a mental health disorder at some point in their life.
While those numbers are scary, perhaps the number that scares me the most is that suicide is the third leading cause of premature death from injury or illness in Australia. Unfortunately, males are also 3 to 4 times more likely to take their lives. So many of us will have been personally touched by the loss of a friend or family member early.
While the conversation of mental wellness is often dominated by worst case scenarios, there is so much we can all do to flip the conversation – you don’t need to wait until you’re in trouble to do something about it.
For me, direct experience with neurodiversity and taking the time to learn about it has opened my eyes to the importance of positive and proactive mental wellbeing, which means celebrating when we are feeling great and on top of the world but equally acknowledging when we are feeling down and maybe not ‘ok’.
I would encourage everyone to put exercising your mental wellbeing in the same category as your physical wellbeing. There are so many options out there; it could be as simple as practising mindfulness activities like colouring in, to prioritising time with loved ones, to disconnecting from technology – the list is endless.
Being honest with yourself, your family, colleagues and friends that you may not be feeling great is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is quite the opposite! Owning your wellbeing is a sign of strength.
Wellbeing at Suncorp
We are an organisation that experiences the reality of the mental wellness challenge.
For many of us at Suncorp, we’re working with customers who are suffering trauma, vulnerability, hardship or even injury. Our amazing teams are having really honest and authentic conversations with customers each day.
I am proud that Suncorp is leaning into this discussion, with mental health and wellbeing one of our focuses in our Advocacy Framework. Suncorp is also a founding member of the Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia.
Suncorp is fortunate to have access to a range of excellent support services, including our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). While so often you may hear EAP programs mentioned in the context of a support of ‘last resort’, ours has so many other amazing services like wellbeing coaching, nutrition and financial coaching and legal support. It’s not just for accessing a psychologist. It’s designed to help you before it gets to that point.
Where to from here?
While conversations around mental wellbeing shouldn’t be reserved for days like R U OK? Day, they do provide a great reminder of the importance of positive mental wellbeing. Remember, R U OK? Day is about 4 simple steps:
Ask R U OK?
Listen without judgement
This is not about each of us becoming clinical psychologists. It is about being there for our family, friends, colleagues. My hope is that we can have open, honest and vulnerable conversations with each other every day, just as we would with our customers.
Support is available – please reach out to the following services if you need help:
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
- Mental Health Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team in your state/territory
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636.