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Banish the back to work blues – for good!

Banish the back to work blues – for good!


Sunday 7 January 2018

Thousands of Kiwis are heading back to work tomorrow after their summer holidays, and as they walk into work, the back to work blues just might come in with them.

The back to work blues are a common experience and can include feeling lethargic, unmotivated and resentful.

“Holidays are a great and necessary chance to relax, unwind and reset,” Mental Health Foundation (MHF) chief executive Shaun Robinson says. “It’s natural to feel a bit low when they’re over and we’re back to business as usual, but the back to work blues are avoidable.”

The MHF is challenging individuals and workplaces in New Zealand to not just accept the back to work blues, but take the new year as an opportunity to commit to improving mental health and to work actively to ensure that coming to work is an enjoyable and supportive experience for all.

“We want 2018 to be the year of mental health in the workplace,” Mr Robinson says. “The benefits of improved workplace mental health extend beyond individuals, - they reach into our whānau and communities, too.”

Since 2009, the MHF has been championing the Five Ways to Wellbeing. These five simple steps, (connect, give, take notice, be active and keep learning) are easy to do and make a surprisingly big difference in improving mental health and wellbeing – they are proven to help people find balance, build resilience and boost mental health and wellbeing.

In 2017, the MHF (in partnership with the Health Promotion Agency), launched the Five Ways to Wellbeing at Work toolkit to help employers prioritise mental health and create an engaged workforce with improved wellbeing, greater morale and higher job satisfaction.

The Foundation is challenging employers to make use of the free toolkit to create a better working environment, improve their bottom line and meet their health and safety obligations to manage risks to mental health and wellbeing.

“The toolkit takes the guess work out of using the Five Ways to Wellbeing in the workplace, taking you through four steps for success and offering practical information in the form of ten fact sheets and eleven different tools,” Mr Robinson says.

Mr Robinson says the evidence overwhelmingly presents a strong business case for looking after the mental wellbeing of employees.

“We know workplaces that prioritise mental health have more engaged staff, reduced absenteeism and higher productivity. Australian research also found that workplaces that take effective action to create mentally healthy workplaces can expect a return on investment of $2.30 for every dollar spent,” Mr Robinson says.

“If you look at it that way, the question isn’t ‘should we do this?’ but ‘can we afford not to?’”

The Mental Health Foundation’s top five tips for individuals returning to work:

- Think about what you have to look forward to, and, if possible, plan your next holiday. It’s easier to turn your focus back to work if you know when your next break will be
- Find ways to incorporate the Five Ways to Wellbeing into your day
- Block out at least 15 minutes a day just for you to do something you enjoy
- Take advantage of the lighter evenings and plan fun activities with friends and family
- Get organised – you’ll feel less stressed if you take some time to plan your day and week ahead

The Mental Health Foundation’s top five challenges to employers in 2018:

- Put mental health and wellbeing on the agenda for the year. Talk to staff about their needs and work with them to create a mentally healthy and supportive work environment
- Get your leaders on board: commitment and engagement from leaders is the most important factor in achieving healthy workplaces. Create a shared sense of purpose, ensure everyone knows why you’re prioritising mental health and lead by example
- Download, read and implement the Five Ways to Wellbeing at Work toolkit
- Celebrate anti-bullying day Pink Shirt Day on Friday 18 May, and use it as an opportunity to create or review and refresh your anti-bullying policy
- Grow your confidence and skills to talk about mental health in the workplace by making use of the MHF’s Open Minds resources (includes videos, factsheets, posters and an FAQ that answers common questions such as ‘I’m worried about an employee’s mental health, what should I do?” and “what are the do’s and don’ts of talking about mental health?”


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