Category Archives: Workplace

unleash your voice

Find & Unleash Your Voice

The Never-Ending Search for Health and Agency at Work

When it comes to health in the workplace, most people immediately think of physical health, including preventing accidents, slips, falls, etc. However, research shows that worker´s mental health is just as important, if not more so, than their physical health.

For example, take an office worker who is supremely unhappy with their job. They’re so sad, in fact, that they become clinically depressed and have severe bouts of anxiety. They start showing up late, are disengaged on the job, and call in sick frequently. Some may even consider self-harm or harming their co-workers.

Most would agree this is an unhealthy situation. While physical health may be more readily observed, the fact is that employee´s mental health is just as vital to an organization as their physical health. The question then becomes; what can be done to improve the overall mental health of all employees?

There are of course, a number of different avenues to improving mental health, resilience and wellbeing. But one that is so often overlooked, but which is becoming ever so critical in the modern workplace, is the importance of Freedom of Expression.

unleash your voice

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Freedom of Expression and the Mental Health Connection

In The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 10 declares that the right to freedom of opinion and expression is one of the fundamental human rights. Indeed, it may be the most essential human right, as freedom of expression ties deeply into the human psyche.

But what, exactly, is freedom of expression, and why is it so crucial to a person’s mental health? The answer lies in the fact that, while an employee is under the organization’s auspices for whom they work, they are expected to do their work and be productive. However, they are still an autonomous individual with their own opinions, beliefs, and values.

Freedom of expression is the right to express those opinions, beliefs, and values without fear of reprisal, oppression, and censorship. However, the challenge for an employer is to balance an employee’s individual right to expression with the organization’s values, rules, and expectations.

Employees Do Not Have a Constitutional Right to Free Speech

One of the most surprising facts for many people is that, while on the job, freedom of speech laws of the outside world don’t always apply. Even though some may disagree, as an employee, the right to freedom of speech is relatively limited. For example, an employee who publicly says or writes something inflammatory about the company can face legal charges.

Of course, the average employee is never going to do anything of the sort. Many enjoy their job,but, without the freedom to express themselves, languish at their jobs while anxiety and depression take their toll. That’s a problem that has with nothing to do with free speech but rather an employee feeling that their voice, opinions, and ideas have no value.

Methods to Empower Freedom of Expression

Giving employees the ability to fully express their ideas and opinions on the job isn’t something that happens naturally for most organizations. Frankly, it’s ingrained into most workers that “rocking the boat” isn’t a good plan (especially if they want to remain employed).

In the industrial age, we had a very different approach to work. People who got hired to work on a factory line, exchanged their time and physical labor for money. There was no need nor expectation that they would have an input into the systems or procedures. But now, we are no longer in the industrial age. Times are very different.

In the current pandemic/post pandemic workplace, more and more employees are re-evaluating their work and lives, with many opting out of the workforce entirely (heard of the Great resignation?). Those who remain are demanding greater flexibility, greater collaboration, and greater opportunity to contribute their perspectives and ideas in the workplace. At the very least, to be our selves at work. Many workplaces too, are providing support for the ´whole person´, recognizing that as human beings, the personal does impact the professional and vice versa.

For that reason, an organization must make a point of allowing their employees to express their ideas, needs, wants, and any problems they’re having on the job. This is a key element of a psychologically safe workplace. More importantly, action has to be taken that proves their opinions and ideas are being taken seriously. Below are a few excellent methods to do that, including:

  • Show That Speaking Up is a Positive, Not a Negative

Allowing employees the regular opportunity to give feedback without fear of reprisal is one of the best methods of allowing them to express themselves. The truth is, speaking up takes courage. Getting valuable feedback when that happens can be an incredible ego booster that keeps an employee engaged, happy and productive.

  • Create a Culture of Feedback in the Workplace

A quick online search for the term “feedback” will reveal millions and millions of results. Why? Because humans love giving their feedback about anything and everything, especially when they feel that they have something to add to the conversation.

This holds true in the workplace as well, where it’s guaranteed that many employees would love to give their feedback about a wide variety of work-related topics. The key as an employer is to provide them with an open forum to do just that.

This requires much more than a simple “Suggestion Box” on the wall, it is about communicating that the feedback is heard, genuinely considered, and acted upon in one form or another.

When your organization has a culture of seeking feedback and taking action on it, the response from employees is highly positive. One reason may be that, by allowing unfettered feedback, an employer (or manager) showcases their humility. This, in turn, elevates the status of the team member who was seeking feedback. The result is a standard of psychological safety that doesn’t just allow for freedom of expression; it actively encourages that expression on behalf of all employees.

  • Look at Complaints and Grievances as Important Data

It’s easy to see complaints and grievances as nuisances, especially if they aren’t particularly true or correct. On the other hand, if you look at the information provided as data, you can often learn valuable information that, in the end, helps the organization.

Indeed, many a positive change has come from an employee expressing themself about a negative situation. Without freedom of expression in the workplace, these positive (and frequently profitable) changes would never occur.

  • Employee Agency and Mental Health Are Closely Tied Together

By ´agency´ we mean personal agency – the sense of confidence that staff member has that they can influence, and make an impact on their world – in this case, the workplace.

At the end of the day, an employee’s agency and mental health while on the job are closely related. One compliments the other, with more fulfilled, engaged, and productive employees as a result.

For these reasons, giving all employees a voice is vitally important to an organization’s success. Yes, limits and structure need to be put in place, but the resulting changes will contribute to a workplace where mental health issues are low, and satisfaction levels are high. That’s a win-win situation for all involved.

In short, when an organization allows its employees to unleash their voice, the entire organization benefits. In the never-ending search for health and agency, freedom of expression in the workplace is a proven, profitable solution.

returning to work

Returning To Work After The COVID Pandemic Crisis

Millions are returning to the physical workplace after extended periods of time working from home. While the world is still dealing with the virus and its knock on effects, many people are now focused on what it will be like to get back to the workplace. There are many issues to be considered, that encompass work, family and mental health needs. Below we offer some tips to return to work successfully.

Tips For Employers:

  1. Prepare your Team – what each person needs will depend on the individual. Talk to your people, understand their individual concerns. Help them feel safe and comfortable Negotiate and try to meet their emotional and physical needs. Communicate your expectations clearly.
returning to work
Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels
  1. Show Appreciation – Showing appreciation is still one of the most important things employers can do. People work best when they are acknowledged and appreciated.
  1. Be Flexible – Each workplace will have different needs, but where you can, stay open to new ideas and be willing to experiment until you find what works for your team members and your organization.
  1. Offer Employee Counseling – Whether they are having difficulty returning back to work or not, making counseling available lets your employees know you care about their wellbeing.
  1. Be Available – Especially at the start. It will be normal for staff to have concerns and questions. These can usually be resolved quickly if you are available to reassure the person and address them.
  1. Be Honest – You may not have the answers to everything, but be upfront about what information you know and don´t know. Demonstrating your transparency will go a long way to building trust with your team members, and minimizing any anxiety they may have.
  1. Consider New Workers – Some staff may never have actually been on site at the workplace before, or never met their colleagues in person. They may need some time to adapt to a new rhythm and to learn the culture of the organization.
  1. Have Patience – Employees will need to re-adjust. Don´t assume everything will go back to how it was before – the workplace may look and feel different. Be patient as people become comfortable with any new changes.

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Tips For Employees:

  1. Take Care of Family – Ensuring that your children or other family members are safe and taken care of during working hours is essential to success in the workplace.
  1. Re-Evaluate Your Skills – Are there any skills that need refreshing? Or new ones to be learned? This might be the right time to do so.
  1. Keep the Balance – Returning to work may be accompanied with higher stress & anxiety. Make sure to take a little time during the day to de-stress. Move, stretch, walk up the stairs, or talk with positive co-workers.
  1. Mental Health And Resilience Training – Learn about common signs of mental distress, develop tools to prevent them from arising, and know how to respond if they do. Your skills in this area can help you to manage stress, and also know how to assist someone else in distress.

The road back to normal after COVID might be tricky but there are things you can do to make it a more pleasant experience. Think things through, be positive and take the time to prepare for your return to work.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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The real dangers of Work-From-Home burnout and how to properly tackle them

Work-from-home (WFH) burnout is a real, serious, and increasingly common risk for remote workers across the globe. Learn the signs of WFH burnout, how to combat it, and where employers/virtual managers and employees can reach out for help.

The world is grappling with the novel coronavirus pandemic that continues to take a toll on nearly all aspects of people’s lives. The vast majority of the workforce across the globe has willy-nilly adapted to a new work environment — the new “normal” in the context of the pandemic. But working from home has also opened a Pandora’s box of workaholic tendencies, anxieties and fears, proneness to overworking and burnout, and potential mental health problems.

While the virus itself poses a risk to our physical health, the impact of the whole unnerving situation on our mental health is anything but negligible, and this is especially true for remote workers whose home has transformed into their office. Between working harder and longer hours from home and juggling family responsibilities, people who have been working remotely due to government-imposed restrictions are facing an increased risk of WFH/ lockdown burnout, with potentially long-term repercussions.


Different Remote Workers in Different Industries, All Overworked and Burned Out

What used to exclusively be their own oasis of relaxation where they’d spent quality time with their loved ones and unwind has also become their work environment for several months now. In a recent BBC News video, three professionals working remotely in different industries share their WFH experiences in terms of feeling the signs of burnout and overworked during lockdown in the UK.


“When I used to work at the gym I’d finish my work at the gym and then get home and rest but this just feels like there’s no end”.

Ana, a young personal trainer living in the UK, has been intensely working from home since March. Stuck at home, she started posting more educational content and live streaming workouts on Instagram, which quickly increased the number of clients from different countries. To provide her services online to clients in different parts of the world, such as the US and Australia, she’s been working almost round the clock. “I’m constantly working”, confesses Ana. From 30 sessions per week, Ana now manages 50-60 sessions per week.


“Because I lost all the gig income, I had to really buckle down”.

For David Altweger, a middle-aged musician and owner of an independent record label, the pandemic has had a devasting impact on his gig income. Running a record label online requires a lot of hard work and longer hours, so it’s no wonder that David’s workload significantly increased. He starts his day at 5 a.m. with a strong coffee. David’s workday is around 16 hours, as he’s got to handle every aspect of his business himself, including design work, office work, and, with his distributor closed due to lockdown, even CD deliveries, which are quite time-consuming, taking him at least 2 hours a day.

“Sometimes I feel like Covid Father Christmas delivering music to people’s door”, confesses David. His Moka pot is his “secret weapon”, but at the end of the day, he feels “completely knackered”.


“Lockdown has brought out the workaholic in me”

Abbey, a young art director working remotely for an ad agency in the UK has been feeling the pressure to stay productive and has been experiencing the effects of overworking due to fear of losing her job too. “I’m doing ten times more because there’s so much uncertainty around jobs and everything”, laments Abbey, for whom “the need to keep working” at all costs is so strong and deeply embedded that she oftentimes refuses to tend to her physiological needs for food.

She finds it difficult to take a break just to have lunch because she “doesn’t know how to switch off”. A major contributor to her inability to switch off is the fact that work and relaxation take place in the same environment i.e her home. Separating the two is as difficult for Abbey as it is for other remote workers around the globe.

In America, where over 30 million people have filed unemployment claims since March, the pressure to stay productive and even be more productive than prior to the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of overworked people working from their homes. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll , 45% of US adults say that this whole situation associated with the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.

I find myself working all the time, even when I should be getting ready for bed”

41-year-old New Jersey resident and mother-of-two Alana Acosta-Lahullier is overworked and feels burned out to the bone. Alana says she feels “an obligation to get everything done right”, even if doing so is detrimental to her mental health and well-being. Between her full-time job, working remotely for an electrical contractor, parenting, and helping with the schooling of her daughter and son, who has ADHD on the autism spectrum, she’s “constantly on the verge of a panic attack”.

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Panic-Working Is a Manic Defense

Even Gianpiero Petriglieri, a psychiatrist, MD, and associate professor of organizational behavior at the Business School for the World (INSEAD) admitted in late March that “by the time I went to bed at 3 a.m., I was exhausted, edgy, and miserable” due to “panic-working” from home.

The obsession with staying productive at all costs is considered a “manic defense” by psychoanalysts. Panic-working gives us a false sense of security and the illusion of being in control. It numbs us in the short term but this defense comes at a high price – feeling disconnected from reality, our experiences, and other people, and completely burned out.

Fighting Fire with Fire: A Vicious Cycle

Remote workers are oftentimes pushing themselves too hard as a way of coping with their anxieties and fears caused by the pandemic and the recession. But overworking in an effort to stay productive does not serve them well; in fact, it’s akin to self-sabotage because it eventually leads to burnout, more anxiety, depression, and other repercussions on their mental and overall health.

Both employers/virtual managers and remote workers need to be aware of the increased risk of burnout associated with working from home, recognise the (early) signs, and effectively combat it as early as possible.

Working Harder and Longer Has Become the Norm

Transition to a work-from-home culture has been challenging for managers across the globe. Finding new ways to ensure that their remote teams stay productive is one of their main priorities. However, instead of worrying about their teams’ underperformance, virtual managers should be on the lookout for overperformance, which has been found to be productivity’s enemy rather than its ally.

According to a 2017 working paper published by researchers at Harvard Business School, task selection is a common way through which workers manage their increased workload. More specifically, they tend to complete easier tasks, a behavior labeled as Task Completion Bias (TCB). Although TCB has been found to improve short-term productivity, it negatively impacts long-term performance measured by revenue and speed alike. Workers who do not exhibit this behavior tend to be significantly more productive than those who exhibit TCB.

Research shows that the vast majority of remote workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts. They work harder and longer hours than ever before for different reasons, including the fact that employers apply increasingly more pressure for efficiency purposes. for financial rewards, and out of fear. Remote workers fear for many things – they fear for the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones; the economic fallout and uncertainty of the future; they fear for losing their livelihood/financial security and no longer being able to provide for themselves and their family, and more.

But the reality is that overworking makes a remote worker more prone to WFH burnout.

The Warning Signs of WFH Burnout

Work-from-home or lockdown burnout refers to a state of exhaustion on physical, emotional, and mental levels caused by prolonged and excessive stress associated with panic-working/overworking from home and disruption to the work-life balance.

Although burnout is still not classified as a medical disorder, the World Health Organisation (WHO) included it in ICD-11 last year as an occupational phenomenon and is defined as “a syndrome” that results from chronic and unsuccessfully managed workplace stress.

What to watch out for:

  • Chronic fatigue/exhaustion and apathy
  • Depression and/anxiety worsening over time
  • Constantly elevated stress levels and reduced energy levels
  • Feeling overwhelmed and mentally drained all the time
  • Inability to focus and forgetfulness/memory issues
  • Lack of motivation, feelings of negativism toward one’s job
  • Declining performance, avoiding work or inability to switch off
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath and/or heart palpitations
  • Irritability, anger, and sleep disorders (e.g. insomnia)
  • Dizziness and headaches/migraines
  • Loss of/reduced appetite and/or gastrointestinal issues

Early recognition of these signs via virtual channels such as chat apps and video calls is of the utmost importance. It’s worth noting that a worker who is affected by WFH/lockdown burnout does not necessarily have to exhibit all of the above signs, because it manifests differently in different people.

Burnout can also weaken a remote worker’s immune system, which in turn may increase the risk of getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

Tips To Combat Lockdown Burnout

  • Establish clear boundaries that separate work from personal life to prevent work-life balance disruption
  • Set office hours and create a schedule designating work, free and family time to regain control
  • Avoid the tendency of being the perfect worker, which adds extra pressure
  • Take time off to unwind and discover a new hobby
  • Maintain social interactions/connections to avoid social isolation and detachment
  • Don’t suffer in silence -Talk to your team, virtual manager and reach out for help
  • If you are a manager or supervisor, make sure you can provide first aid for mental health incidents involving anxiety, stress and burnout.
  • As an organization, provide workplace mental health training and resilience building skills training for your managers, supervisors and leaders.

Reach Out For Professional Help From Therapists

It’s absolutely crucial for virtual managers to learn to recognise the telltale signs of work-from-home burnout as early as possible in order to minimize its long-term impact on remote workers’ mental well-being as well as to properly address it in a timely and efficient fashion. The Workplace Mental Health Institute ( WMHI) is here to help virtual managers across the globe with a suite of tailored, top-tier and results-driven telehealth training courses and services, counseling, and coaching sessions on mental health, well-being, and resilience of employees working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you’re an employee working from home and you’ve been feeling the effects of burnout and overworked during lockdown, it’s in your best interest to take some time off to decompress and to speak with a qualified therapist. In case your job offers free counseling sessions through an employee assistance program (EAP), then do yourself a huge favor and take full advantage of it for the sake of your mental health and well-being in these uncertain and difficult times.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
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Leadership in Times of Crisis

Leadership in times of crisis

Hard times are when we need Leadership more than ever. Leadership is not a part time job. It’s about showing up as a leader every day. There are no born leaders, leadership is not about being chosen. Leadership is about choosing to do the right thing that will make a difference in the most amount of lives in the shortest amount of time, that is sustainable and scalable. That’s what great leaders are all about.

Great leaders require three things. The Right Psychology, The Right Methodology, and Flexibility.

Starting with the right psychology

Crisis = opportunity. That is the psychology of a leader. Whenever there’s a problem or a crisis, on the other side of that crisis, there is always opportunity. In order for us to find that opportunity, we have to ask ourselves three questions. First, where is the good in this? Second, what can we learn from this? And finally, the third question is, how can we use this to find opportunities to improve the quality of our lives, our organizations, our families, and our tribes? You’ve got to get your psychology right.

Second, is the right methodology

This is about following a simple five step system that will make the biggest difference in the shortest amount of time that is scalable and sustainable. The five simple steps of this methodology are as follows.

Leadership in Times of Crisis
Leadership in times of crisis
  1. A vision that outlives the leader

“Without a vision people perish.” Proverbs 29:18. You need a vision, and not just any vision. But a crystal clear vision that can outlive you. This is the only way for it to be sustainable and scalable. Your vision needs to be set up so your tribe is empowered with the opportunity to also implement the vision forever. Whether it’s within an organization, a government, a family.

How do you know your vision can outlive you? Ask yourself, “Does my product, service or organization stand for something that makes a difference in people’s lives long term?”

This is what leaders need to ask themselves, if their vision incorporates others and makes a difference -not just in their own family or their organization, but the world? Establishing a vision allows people to stand for something and not just fall for anything – especially in tough times.

  1. Communication

The number one skill of all leaders is their ability to influence and persuade. Your ability to communicate is in direct proportion with you turning your vision into a reality. Without the ability to communicate, your vision will never be realized or accomplished. Are you communicating your vision in a way, so your tribe practically buys into it? Or are you dictating — forcing your vision upon your tribe? The second type is the fastest way to stop your vision from ever being realized.

There are two styles of leadership and communicating. There’s a Socratic way and there’s an Autocratic way. Socratic leadership is actually asking questions and enrolling and getting buy in for your vision from your tribe. It’s long term and sustainable. The second style is Autocratic, and it also works. However, it’s basically dictating and telling people what to do, which is not sustainable for the long term if you want to develop other leaders and empower them to maintain your vision.

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  1. Demonstration

In order for any vision or leader to stay on top to continue leading a tribe or an organization, the most important thing is the ability to demonstrate the core values of an organization that represent achieving the vision. Does the leader demonstrate the example of what needs to be done to empower people from the bottom to the top and the top to the bottom of the organization? This is what allows people to step up and become an example and a leader themselves.

  1. Meaningful Education

The number one thing that empowers us to change the world is education. It’s no wonder the word education was derived from the latin word “Educere” which means “to bring forth” the best in others. Are you bringing out the best in others? Do you teach them how to think, and not just what to do? Ultimately, what changes our world more than anything, is our ability to educate and empower our people and teams to learn to think for themselves. This is how you future proof your business or organization by creating future leaders who will carry on your vision forever.

  1. Implementation

In times of crisis, There are two kinds of companies. The Quick and the Dead. Which one are you? Your ability to implement your vision and be nimble on your feet as a leader, as an organization — will determine how fast that you can pivot and adjust to the marketplace. The crisis or the opportunity tests your organization to sustain growth in good times and in bad. There will always be a winter, spring summer or fall in life and business. Can you weather the storm of the winter? So that in the spring, you can grow again, and in summer, you can reap the benefits and prepare in the good times as well as the bad? Your business needs to be battle tested. The only way to do that is to weather all the seasons.

Finally, the third key for leadership is Flexibility

This is the ability to adapt to the situation to be flexible and continue making a difference by altering strategies to achieve the vision. The law of the universe is “You Either Grow or Die”. and if you are not adapting to the situation, your company is going to suffer. Depending on how big of a business you have, most businesses if not all, are being forced to work on a skeletal workforce right now, during these times of crisis. Your ability to be flexible can be determined by you implementing what I call the Three W’s and the Three S’s so that you can evaluate your business every week.

Ask yourself these three questions, “What’s working, What’s not working, and What can I do differently”? Finally, once you answer those questions, you ask yourself “What should I STOP doing? What should I START doing? and what should I STREAMLINE?”

This is what I call the ultimate leadership system. At the end of the day, the only thing that changes the world is leadership, individuals putting others and the greater good before themselves. With the right psychology, methodology and flexibility. We can all change the world. Help me change the world.


John Rankins

Business Growth Expert

Has CoronaVirus Attacked Your Career

Has CoronaVirus attacked your career harder than your immune system?

The majority of the world’s workforce is currently going through a challenging, unpredicted situation, so if you’ve lost your job or are facing job loss and feeling overwhelmed or under-prepared, don’t panic- you’re not alone!

First and foremost, recognize and remind yourself as often as necessary that this is not your fault. You’re not in your current situation because you made bad decisions, didn’t work hard enough or didn’t plan properly. There are things in life within our control and things in life outside our control, and this is one that’s out of our control. We can’t control the circumstances, but we can control how we react to them.

Being thrust into isolation further complicates the situation for many of us that aren’t used to working from home, aren’t able to work from home, or have children in the household to look after. Some of us are going to have to accept immediately available work, even if it’s not what we want in the long-term, and others are going to become freelancers or entrepreneurs launching the business idea we’ve had for years!

Whatever your situation, a good place to start is by defining or reevaluating your “why”. Your “Why” is your vision, your purpose and your bigger picture reason for why you do the work you do each day. Before all this virus chaos started, how aligned was the life you were living with the life you want to be living? Having worked in recruitment for the past 15 years, I can confidently say that before the virus struck, there were hundreds of thousands of people unsatisfied with their jobs/careers/incomes. If you are one of them, there’s no better time than now to make a change. As many of us are being hurdled into forced change, let’s remember that it can be a very good thing!

Has CoronaVirus Attacked Your Career
Has CoronaVirus attacked your career harder than your immune system?

Here are some questions that might help you discover or rediscover your “Why”:

  • What do/did you like about your current/most recent work?
  • What don’t/ didn’t you like about your current/most recent work?
  • What are some of your top skills and best characteristics?
  • How or where could you utilize them? What industries require similar skills?
  • What makes you stand out from others with a similar education/work experience?
  • What would you be doing for work if anything/everything was an option?

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Now that we’ve established a strong mental foundation, it’s going to be important that those of us looking for work or anticipating the need to look for work in the near future are productive and taking action now so we can come out the other side of this on top!

Here are five productive actions you can take, while in isolation or lockdown to set yourself up for success!

  1. Update your CV/ Resume/ LinkedIn Profile. When listing employment, education, and responsibilities, start with the most relevant/impressive ones and leave the less relevant/ impressive ones for the bottom of the list. Highlight your transferable skills, characteristics and qualities, and emphasize what makes you stand out from others with a similar background. Lastly, be more memorable by including volunteer work, awards and recognition, a famous quote, a photo or something unique that would catch a hiring manager’s attention.
  2. Apply for local jobs or remote work that’s being advertised online. A lot of companies are also going through transition periods and many employers will still be engaging with candidates, conducting video interviews, and even beginning digital training for new starts.
  3. Prepare a few interview outfits including shoes and accessories, then take a photo of them so you don’t waste time the day of an interview worrying about what to wear!
  4. Practice roleplaying common interview questions with a friend, relative, flatmate, etc. You don’t have to live together- practice over the phone or video call. If you’re both looking for work, alternate interviewer and interviewee!
  5. For those of you looking to start your own business, check out the book I published last year called From Freelance to Freedom where you can learn more about my business journey and receive practical advice for launching and scaling your business. (Available on Amazon as a kindle download or paperback for a heavily reduced price due to the pandemic)

Be sure to follow up and follow through! If an employer is debating between two equally qualified candidates, and one of them phones in to follow up, they might decide to go with that applicant because of their pro-active nature.

Remember, your self-talk and mentality are a massive factor in your ability to thrive and achieve career success. Hiring Managers are humans which means they have a limited attention span and can forget things. Taking action now, being memorable, and following up can make a difference.


Kristen O’Connell

Founder and Director of Superlative Recruitment, Ltd


COVID 19 – What is Jeff Bezos doing?

In times of crisis and uncertainty, we all know that leaders must communicate – and communicate well.
Amazon has over 700,000 employees all over the world. On March 21, 2020, Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, sent a letter to all their employees.

So, what did Jeff Bezos say to them and is there a “template” we can follow to communicate with our teams, employees, and followers? (Go here to read the full text of his letter)

I believe there are seven (7) main ideas we can replicate for those who are looking to us for leadership. And while directed to employees, Bezos’ letter also communicates the way ahead for Amazon customers, suppliers, and third-party sellers.

1. Acknowledge Reality

Bezos opens his letter with, “This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty.” Your employees know we are in uncharted waters. Platitudes won’t work. All of us are under great stress. Bezos says, “Across the world, people are feeling the economic effects of this crisis, and I’m sad to tell you I predict things are going to get worse before they get better.”


2. Reinforce the mission

When Bezos founded Amazon, he knew its core purpose and message. In his original 1997 Letter to Shareholders, Bezos said, “we are working to build something important, something that matters to our customers, something that we can all tell our grandchildren about.” Bezos reinforces that original vision by saying, “It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical. We’re providing a vital service to people everywhere, especially to those, like the elderly, who are most vulnerable.”

3. What we are doing now?

Bezos explains the steps Amazon is taking (and already has taken) to adapt to the dramatic increase in orders. He says exactly what Amazon is doing, “We’ve changed our logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing, and third-party seller processes to prioritize stocking and delivering essential items like household staples, sanitizers, baby formula, and medical supplies.

They have prioritized delivering essential items to customers most in need.
In a time when many are fearing for their jobs, Amazon is hiring 100,000 new temporary workers to get orders out. “We hope people who’ve been laid off will come work with us until they’re able to go back to the jobs they had.”

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4. Gratitude

Bezos says thank you. “I’m not alone in being grateful for the work you are doing.” Let your employees know you appreciate their effort in continuing to help your clients or customers. And let them know when customers are saying thank you by passing along notes of thanks and encouragement. Employees need to feel valued, especially now. “Your efforts are being noticed…” Everyone is at risk these days, and being noticed and valued is especially important when people are working and feeling scared and unsettled.


Bezos explains the steps they are taking to protect workers who are not able to work from home, especially those vital workers in their fulfilment centers. Again, Bezos acknowledges reality, “When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people.” And he makes a commitment that it’s not a “once and done.” “We are meeting every day, working to identify additional ways to improve on these measures.” Employees need to know this is a process that will have attention daily in this volatile time.

6. Reassurance

Let your employees know there is always a future. And leadership involves letting those who work for you, and with you, know that you are still looking toward the future and there is hope.

Bezos says, “My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role. I want you to know Amazon will continue to do its part, and we won’t stop looking for new opportunities to help.”

And, Bezos is personal. This isn’t just theory or rhetoric. He rightly says, “There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone. My list of worries right now — like yours I’m sure — is long…”

7. Mindset — Believe It’s Always Day 1

How has Amazon been able to react to this crisis so quickly? It all comes down to mindset.
Day 1 is not simply a list of steps or strategies. It is the mentality through which all decisions are made. It is the anchor for acknowledging and remembering their beginning values and their dogged focus on serving the needs of customers and in “delighting” customers—even in turbulent times.

It is designed to keep everyone in the company focused on doing what is right in each situation, just like the first day you were open for business. Because, like a child’s tower of building blocks, if the foundation isn’t stable, the tower will come tumbling down. And then it’s Day 2, which is “Stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

So, can we use Bezos’ letter as a template for us to communicate well? I think Bezos’ closing words are actually the most important and essential for all of us to remember.

“Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I know that we’re going to get through this, together.”


Steve & Karen Anderson

Steve is a Trusted Authority on Risk, Technology, Productivity, and Innovation.

Steve and his wife, Karen, are the authors of the The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business Like Amazon (Morgan James) a Wall Street Journal, USA Today bestseller, and Forbes Top Pick for 2020.


What to do if your employees are anxious about coronavirus

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is also impacting on employees mental health. But there are things you can do to protect your staff.

There has been an escalation in coronavirus cases globally in the last 48 hours. In response, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s is enacting the pandemic emergency response. We know that there will be a lot of employees experiencing a higher than usual level of stress right now.

From a workplace mental health perspective, during this time of fear and uncertainty, employees may be experiencing:

  • Concern for their health and that of their friends, families and co-workers.
  • Uncertainty about the economic impact on their organization, and therefore their future employment.
  • Difficulty managing changes in the way they conduct their regular job tasks.
  • Frustration with the uncertainty as to how long this situation will last and how severe it will become

Learn more about Workplace Mental Health Strategies…

And when people are stressed and fearful, people respond in a variety of ways. And when people are stressed, it is common for people to:

  • become anxious or irritable
  • experience conflict with co-worker’s
  • feel demotivated or disengaged
  • lower their productivity
  • and a whole host of other responses.

Our hearts go out to the many of the workplaces we support that have staff and clients in affected areas, with some either previously or currently in quarantine. Many others are concerned about how the virus might impact their employees and their business in the coming weeks and or months.

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For these reasons, we felt it timely to reach out and let you know about some of the ways in which we are ready to assist you in supporting your teams during this difficult time:

  1. Online training programs – on mental health and wellbeing, resilience and mindfulness specifically but also the opportunity to upskill and keep staff engaged while regular duties might not be possible.
  2. Interactive webinar sessions on how to manage stress and change. Specifically, in the context of the Coronavirus.
  3. Online individual counselling and coaching.
  4. Consulting with leadership teams on workforce wellbeing strategy.

Our qualified, expert mental health professionals in Australia, the UK, and the USA, are ready to deliver support or training in Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and English.

We know that workplaces can be a great source of support to staff, and we’d like to see workplaces come together to look after each other during this time.

Please check the World Health Organization’s (WHO) resources on the Coronavirus (COVID 19)

If there is anything we can do to assist with that, please get in touch. We are here to help.


Mental Health Expert Warns: 8 types of manager you could avoid for a mentally healthy workplace

Bad bosses are to blame for rise in workplace mental health issues

A recent study commissioned by global staffing business, Robert Half, showed that half of workers surveyed quit due to a bad boss. The survey results seem to support the theory that people leave managers, not companies.

Mental Health Expert and the CEO of the Workplace Mental Health Institute, Peter Diaz has warned that bad bosses are contributing to a rise in mental health issues in the workplace. We already know that workplaces are increasingly under more pressure due to the state of the global economy and the level of digital disruption happening across all industries. These pressures are being felt by many people as employees are being asked to do more with less time. At a time when employees need to be further supported given the challenging economic environment, it seems many businesses and managers haven’t got the memo.

Peter Diaz says there are eight types of bad managers you could avoid for a mentally healthy workplace.


1. Rude and Insulting Managers

This type of manager seems to find joy in making others feel less powerful or special. They openly criticise you in front of others and even raise their voice from time to time. Whether they do it on purpose or do it without even realising, this type of behaviour is incredibly destructive. You can let them know how their actions affect you however often this behaviour is attached to narcissistic personalities and those who feel threatened by others. Giving them feedback is unlikely to change their behaviour.

2. Ungrateful and Inflexible Managers

Many managers struggle with the concept of thanks and making their staff feel valued. Even worse, not only do they fail to make you feel appreciated, they also fail to be flexible. As most millennials will tell you, flexibility in the workplace is very important. In fact, it has been identified by this generation as one of the most important elements of the ideal workplace. Staff need the ability to blend their busy lives with work, whether it be family, kids, illness, study, causes – managers need to be considerate and flexible and find a way to meet staff in the middle.

3. Disorganised and Last Minute Managers

This type of manager typically makes their inaction your emergency. I think we have all worked with someone like this and can vouch from personal experience that this type of manager is dangerous and soul destroying. Helping them to better manage themselves and their responsibilities is not your job.

4. Unapproachable and Arrogant Managers

This type of manager is difficult to work with. Often staff will avoid dealing directly with this type of manager because they find them so intimidating. Often when these managers do engage, they are always right and tend to gloat about it. This is a personality and style issue. You can can do your research and work out how to crack their ‘self-loved’ veneer – but it can be a challenging task.

5. Managers Pick and Play with Favourites

Unfortunately, these types of managers are everywhere. They overtly pick favourites and these people seem to get away with blue murder including not doing their job. They also tend to be the ones put up for promotion and other opportunities. Other staff often end up carrying the load which burns people out and leaves them feeling undervalued, underpaid and exploited. You can try to pamper the boss with praise and sell your soul to get into their good books – but if you are a person with a moral compass this usually isn’t the best option.

6. Micromanager

This type of manager will give you things to do and then tell you how to do it and check every aspect of your progress. Most capable staff will only put up with this behaviour for a short period of time before leaving or exploding. The key is to build confidence and trust fast while establishing mechanisms to keep your manager constantly updated. This tends to add so much work to an already busy load that most people move on to other roles to get away from the micromanagement.

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7. Too Busy and Unavailable Managers

We are all busy in the year 2019 – but the people we should be most available for, are our staff. If it means that managers have to get to work earlier, or lock in staff time that can not be double booked, then this is what must happen. Managers who find themselves too busy for their staff are not managers, they are simply absent colleagues. Staff need engagement with their manager, they need to be able to access their manager to discuss and resolve issues and seek guidance on work related matters.

8. Distressed and Overwhelmed Managers

Bosses are human too. When they are distressed and overwhelmed, they can become a risk to the mental health of their team. Self care is very important for bosses too. Here you can encourage your boss to care for themselves. Do things they enjoy and have regular small breaks throughout the day to improve productivity.

Bad managers can cause mental health issues in their workplace, and through bad management they can also worsen issues staff may be experiencing. If we can better equip businesses and managers to understand and deal with mental health issues in the workplace, we can save lives – many lives. Importantly we can also help managers to be better managers.

Peter Diaz and Emi Golding have written and released a book to provide organizations and managers with practical assistance on dealing with mental health in the workplace. Their much anticipated book is called: Mental Wealth: An Essential Guide to Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing. This latest workplace mental health book provides important guidance for all organizations, leaders and managers on mental health in the workplace and how to build resilient and meaningful cultures and processes that enable organizations to support and appropriately manage those with mental health issues.

It is more important than ever that every business, organization and manager across the country is positioned to deal with mental health issues and understand the warning signs. We all need to step up and ensure we are taking care of people. The only thing that gets us through hard times is people. We need to help people and support them to cope and to be resilient.

The Workplace Mental Health Institute is the leading peak body for research, advice and training relating to workplace mental health.

The book is available for purchase from a number of different outlets like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Powell’s, Indigo, IndieBound and many other bookstores worldwide and online.

Please visit for more info on this book.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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How to support mental health in the workplace

How to Support Mental Health in the Workplace

What you can now copy from the TOP companies like PWC and AMP on how they boost their employees’ Mental Health while improving Corporate Culture, Engagement and Profitability

Most management teams these days don’t need to be convinced that taking care of their team’s mental health is a good idea. But many managers don’t know where to start to support their employees. Here we show you what some top companies are doing in this important space, so you can copy and use what you need.

  1. These companies recognise the importance of investing in their employees’ mental health.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health disorders affect nearly one in four people each year. Depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders are among the top causes of disability worldwide.1

Since people tend to spend most of their working life at work, it follows that mental health issues affect all areas of a person’s life, including work.

How to support mental health in the workplace

WHO estimates the global cost of depression and anxiety at more than $1.2 trillion per year in lost productivity. Left untreated, depression and other issues can affect absenteeism, productivity, and put workers at an increased risk of suicide.2 In short, having a reactive (or non-existent) approach to supporting mental health at work is eating up massive amounts of profits in businesses everywhere.

Unfortunately, many people don’t get help for mental health problems. Most people won’t even tell their immediate boss that there’s a problem. Up to fifty percent of people will not disclose at work. And, even more concerning, two-thirds of people who have a mental disorder won’t seek any professional treatment. Some say that the very real fear of discrimination and stigma are two gigantic obstacles that prevent people from getting help.

Mental health has long been considered an off-limits topic in the workplace. Thankfully, smart business leaders are beginning to recognize the importance of helping their employees’ stay emotionally fit. Here are three ways that top companies put mental health and well-being first.

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  1. They Teach Employees’ How To Help Struggling Co-Workers

Most people are not trained to comfortably or effectively talk to someone about their mental health, especially in the workplace. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could make matters worse. AMP, which is a global company and also one of Australia’s largest companies, helps their employees learn how to help co-workers struggling with mental health issues. The financial giant has implemented a training program, called Mental Health Essentials, that equips team members with the skills to recognize when a co-worker is struggling and to get that person appropriate help. To upskill their managers and executives they’ve also run the Workplace Mental Health Masterclass for Leaders. AMP has had this Masterclass training delivered all over Australia, the UK and the USA, with great results.

  1. They Partner With Leading Mental Health Organizations And Don’t Try To Do It All Themselves

Another way that top companies help their employees is by collaborating with trusted mental health organization’s. PWC, AMP and The Star Group partner with several well-known mental health groups, but in particular the Workplace Mental Health Institute. By working with leaders in mental health advocacy, support, and recovery, you too can learn how to proactively support your employees’ mental health, be better prepared organizationally to manage risk and safety, and be better equipped to help colleagues.

  1. They Promote A Culture Of Openness And Trust

A high level of stigma exists surrounding mental health issues. This is an ongoing problem. More than 40 percent of U.K employers believe that hiring a person with mental illness represents a significant risk to the company, according to a 2010 survey among employers. Workers with mental illness are seen as unreliable and hard to get along with.

These types of beliefs in the workplace can cause employees to be reluctant to get help. Workers who call in sick because of depression or anxiety may make up other reasons for their absence. They may believe that being honest will cause their employers to pass them over for job promotions.

This culture needs to change if employers want healthier, more productive employees. One Australian company that understands the importance of fostering an open culture when it comes to mental illness is EY. Ernst & Young has collated information of other companies that are doing well in this space and they report it’s important for companies to share knowledge and information with its managers, supervisors, and employees about mental illness. The company that does well promotes an open dialogue when it comes to talking about mental illness. According to EY, openness and proactive early intervention result in decreased mental-health related claims.

As an employer, there’s a lot that you can do to support your employees’ mental health. Try some of the things that the world’s top companies are doing to support workers’ mental health. You’ll see what a difference these changes can make to your organization and your employees’ well-being.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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Social Media and Mental Health: Solutions For Workplaces

Social Media and Mental Health

Although most workplaces have strict rules about access to social media sites during working hours, there are tools like VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) that the avid worker can use to bypass such restrictions. Furthermore, employees still have a life after work, and a significant amount of that time is spent on social media.

The latest statistics show that the world’s 3.4 billion social media users spend an average of 136 minutes or 2.2 hours daily on social media today compared to 90 minutes in 2012. Many would agree that 2.2 hours is a conservative estimate in an era where you are more likely to be looking at your phone than talking to the person sited next to you.

When did social media become bad?

After more than a decade of social media use, people have started seeing the negative effects of social media use on mental health among other areas like productivity.


The cons of social media are dependent mainly on the amount of time spent. Many studies have established a correlation between high social media use and mental health problems like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, feelings of isolation, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts.

Facebook executives have even been on record stating that the platform poses risks to the emotional well-being of users. In 2017, the social network announced plans to make the platform less about spending time and more about meaningful social interactions. Facebook now has social scientists, psychologists, and sociologists collaborating with developers to make the platform have a more positive influence. Time will tell how successful they will be at the task and whether it will make a difference to the mental health of their users.

Social media anxiety

If you feel anxious at work when you haven’t checked your social media accounts, you could be suffering from a mental health disorder known as social media anxiety disorder. But don’t rush out to get a diagnosis for this social media triggered disorder. After all, this relatively new disorder is the same as social anxiety disorder affecting 20% of social media users who can’t go for more than 3 hours without checking their social media accounts. Given anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorders, the importance of regulating social media use can’t be overlooked.

Individuals with social media anxiety suffer from severe anxiety when they aren’t able to check social media notifications after a few minutes. Common symptoms of the mental disorder include;

  • Losing interest in everything else apart from social media.
  • Interrupting conversations to check social media updates.
  • Lying/being defensive about the time spent on social media.
  • Spending more than 6 hours daily on social media sites.
  • Trying to reduce or stop excessive social media use in vain.
  • Neglecting important commitments like work to engage in social media activities like commenting.
  • Having an overwhelming need to share social media posts with others.
  • Suffering from severe nervousness when you can’t check your social media notifications.
  • Poor professional and personal life because of excessive social media usage.

Spending several hours daily on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, among other social media sites, can hinder your ability to do truly meaningful things in life. It can cost you a job, relationships, among other things. Here’s an in-depth discussion on the specific ways social media affects your mental health.

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Low self-esteem

Comparing yourself to others on Instagram and Facebook with near-perfect photos and videos can bring a fair share of unwarranted insecurities, including feelings of self-doubt, even when you know the pictures have been photoshopped. The problem is that, when your sense of worth is dependent on how others are doing, you place your happiness beyond your control. There are studies showing that many social media users suffer from more envy compared with their counterparts who are rarely on social media.[1] To avoid developing low self-esteem, become more conscious of the time you waste on other people’s social media profiles, and focus on yourself instead.

Poor human connections

Human beings are heavily dependent on personal connections with each other. Social media makes this impossible. Instead of developing real connections, we are more acquainted with digital facades. Many published studies are linking regular use of social media sites like Facebook with poor human connections.[2]

Distorted memory

Social media could also be distorting the way you remember certain aspects of your life. Although you can look back at past memories and recount how they happened, the process of perfecting social media posts distorts certain aspects of the real-time experience being captured.[3] Perfecting social media visuals like photos and videos, overshadows the importance of witnessing the experience in person.

Sleep problems

The importance of sleep can’t be overlooked. You need enough hours of uninterrupted sleep to avoid mental health problems like stress. However, many of us are on our Smartphones before going to bed, making it harder to fall asleep. The blue light emitted by Smartphones is misinterpreted by the brain as daylight. This light suppresses melatonin, the hormone responsible for preparing you for bedtime by altering the circadian rhythm.[4] In a nutshell, social media makes it harder for you to fall asleep, which can, in turn, affect your work when you don’t get enough sleep. It’s advisable to avoid social media 40 to 60 minutes before bedtime.

Poor attention span

The mental health effects of social media go past the subconscious brain. You also need to worry about your ability to concentrate when you are working. Social media makes it extremely easy to distract people. Although social media places a lot of information on our fingertips, it’s harder to pay attention to serious tasks. The easy access to never-ending entertainment offers constant temptation to access new social media content instantly and repeatedly. Very few people today have the willpower to resist checking their phones even during serious engagements thanks to social media.

Serious mental health problems

If you overuse social media and the internet by extension, you could become depressed. You can also suffer from impulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, paranoia, and mental functioning problems.[5] It goes beyond peer pressure to comment and share things. Social media has introduced unique problems i.e., the subconscious need to compare your life with that of others on Instagram or Facebook. This has been linked to feelings of depression, jealousy, and suicidal thoughts in extreme cases if your own life isn’t as “perfect” as what is depicted on social media.

If you are always working but keep being bombarded by pictures and videos of individuals who always seem to be on vacation, such exposure is bound to cause feelings of depression or jealousy. You may also feel suicidal about your own life.

Strategies for workplace mental health

Given social media is a leading cause of depression and anxiety today, problems which cost the global economy approximately $ 1 trillion yearly in lost productivity (according to the WHO), the importance of developing strategies for workplace mental health can’t be overlooked.[6]One of the best approaches is through peak performance research and programs offered by organizations such as the Workplace Mental Health Institute (WMHI). Organizations are now legally obligated to care for the overall well being of their employees. The WMHI has programs which meet such legal obligations. Since managers are the primary influencers in workplaces today, programs that educate them on how to respond to mental health related issues at work benefit everyone (including employees and the bottom-line).

Effective workplace mental health programs tend to start with a company assessment meant to establish the precise state of mental health in an organization. Given 25% of the global population suffers from a mental disorder, every workplace, even those with the best recruitment practices, have employees with mental health problems that need to be addressed.

Mental health assessments should be followed by strategizing and designing the ideal, mentally healthy environment for high performance. Managers should then undergo training to be able to spot or preempt mental health issues as well as contain, solve, or reduce them. For organizations to deal with mental health issues effectively, managers must practice savvy leadership.

Employees must also be equipped to deal with mental health issues. Mentally healthy employees have better job involvement, satisfaction, commitment, performance, and turnover. The best programs provide employees with mental health essentials such as personal resilience strategies that help employees cope with ever-increasing work-life challenges. Employees who are mentally tough have the willpower to resist distractions like social media and focus on productive workplace practices.

Employees who are depressed or suicidal because of social media can get the help they need through suicide prevention skills training meant to equip employees in spotting warning signs among colleagues and how they should respond. Suicide is more prevalent than we think. In Australia, for instance, eight people commit suicide daily. Six of those are men. The prevalence of death by suicide is higher than that of death by car accidents. Workplace mental health programs can help employees identify and respond to warning signs exhibited by colleagues.

These programs are not only a great return on investment, with an average of two hundred and thirty percent return according to PWC, but also offer a platform for introducing mental health conversations in the workplace to reduce stigma and eliminate myths and misconceptions associated with such issues.

Workplace Mental Health Institute peak performance programs are tailored to promote good workplace mental health, which is crucial for achieving business wealth. WMHI programs are endorsed by CEOs and trusted by globally renowned organizations such as PWC, Glencore, American Express, and Tradies.



Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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