Workplace wellbeing is important in preventing the onset of mental health problems such as stress and anxiety. Wellbeing is not just the absence of disease or illness. It is a complex combination of a person's physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. Wellbeing is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction.
What is the risk?
In the course of doing our work schools are often confronted by the more challenging aspects of life. They are asked to ‘do more with less’, and to work with young people who may be going through tough times or with colleagues, who may also be stressed. When job stress is prolonged or excessive, it can be a risk factor for developing a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. Thus, looking after your employee’s mental health is just as important as looking after their physical health.
A range of factors can contribute to job stress, including:
- Working long hours or overtime, working through breaks or taking work home
- Time pressure, working too hard, or unrealistic targets
- Roles where a person has inadequate support from supervisors and/or co-workers
- Lack of role clarity
Who is at risk?
All staff can be at risk of struggling with mental health issues.
Strategies / what schools can do to promote workplace wellbeing
A variety of options, ranging from the very simple to the more complex, may be considered when establishing and implementing a workplace wellbeing program. A workplace wellbeing program refers to activities or initiatives undertaken within the workplace that are designed to impact positively on the general health and wellbeing of workers.
Options for your school may include:
- Establishing a health and wellbeing policy
- Policies and procedures related to bullying, social media, OHS and work-life balance
- Consultation with staff to identify current issues, ideas and preferences
- Encourage staff to complete simple stretching exercises and take breaks during the day
- Provide educational material and information on health and wellbeing issues
- Review the Student Wellbeing Strategy that is provided to students and adapt strategies to suit staff.
Self-care is equally important
Schools can promote wellbeing in the workplace however it is equally important for staff to take steps to look after themselves outside of work. Self-care is about actively looking after your own mental health and wellbeing so that you can effectively support the people you work with.
Suggested activities that promote wellbeing include:
- Develop and maintain strong relationships with family and friends
- Religious involvement and spiritual support
- Make regular time available for social contact
- Eat wholesome, nutritious foods
- Do regular physical activity
- Become involved in activities that interest you
- Join local organisations or clubs that appeal to you
- Set yourself achievable goals and work towards them
- Try to be optimistic and enjoy each day.