Next Thursday 10 September will be R U OK Day, a national reminder to check in at any time on the wellbeing of family, friends and colleagues. In a uniquely challenging year, this day represents an opportunity to schedule a moment with our teams to be there for each other, and for mental health.
Small group gatherings can encourage personal conversations and build open communication in work teams – deepening work relationships and contributing to environments of positivity and support.
This year, team get-togethers require a little more creativity and planning for safety reasons, but supporting each other is more important than ever.
“There’s no doubt our staff have been faced with additional challenges this year and have risen to these remarkably,” says Steve Barrett, Director People and Culture.
“For many people, ongoing tensions arising from COVID-19 have been compounded by the preceding bushfires last season, existing mental health conditions, or any number of personal issues they may be going through.
“R U OK Day provides an opportunity to take a moment with colleagues and demonstrate that we’re here for each other, and that our own mental wellness and that of our team members is important.”
Options for a wellness moment could include a group lunchtime stroll or picnic by the lake, or coming together for an appropriately distanced morning tea, chat over coffee, or something more creative in the spirit of mental health and togetherness. The University is subject to restrictions on shared catering, but staff can dine at campus venues – or bringing own food is another option.
In South Australia and the Northern Territory, the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly well-managed yet its influence on our daily lives has been, and continues to be, significant.
We are all affected in the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic – from the broad economic implications to the myriad factors that affect work, families, social lives or future plans. In fact, preliminary results from a survey conducted by Flinders University social demographer Associate Professor Udoy Saikia indicate that more than 70% of South Australians have experienced deteriorating mental health because of the pandemic. This is just one study in an enormous amount of research underway to understand the effects of COVID-19.
Staff are reminded of the range of mental health resources available to them, many of which are listed on the University’s staff health and wellbeing page and the staff COVID-19 page, together with the University’s Employee Assistance Program.