Mental health & COVID-19 a focus for presentation

Mental health challenges in the workplace for staff and business owners, particularly in the wake of COVID-19, were the focus for a presentation on April 22 by network member Dr Moira Jenkins.

Dr Jenkins, who is the Mayor of the City of Victor Harbor, is an experienced psychologist who specialises in workplace mental health.

Not unexpectedly, the evening online session was one of our most popular yet with participants signing on from throughout regional South Australia to hear Moira’s insights.

There were some startling statistics given including:

  • 45 per cent of Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime.
  • Mental health conditions are affecting one in five Australians right now.

Amid COVID-19 Moira emphasised it was quite normal for us to feel anxious and worried.

Among the triggers for such anxiety were:

  • Feeling like we’re lacking control over the situation
  • Finances
  • Job/business uncertainty
  • Economic uncertainty
  • Impact on family and others
  • A feeling of helplessness when we wanted to assist others
  • Fear of the unknown

Moira outlined a range of activities we could undertake to help alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with COVID-19, and to improve mental health in our workplaces including:

  • Getting support from friends and family
  • Offering flexibility at work including flexible hours, improved teamwork and checkins work
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Resilience training and support
  • Rewarding staff and ourselves for good work
  • Undertaking extra-curricular activities when we’re able to
  • Involvement in community (service clubs)
  • Helping others
  • Stress management programs including meditation and yoga.

She introduced us to Martin Seligmann’s PERMA model for better mental health.

PERMA stands for:

  • Positive Emotion – Focus on positive emotions rather than negative ones.
  • Engagement – Involve yourself in activities that require your full engagement and attention.
  • Relationships – Seek out and nurture positive social connections and relationships.
  • Meaning – Have a purpose or a meaning to what we’re doing.
  • Accomplishments – Set goals and strive to achieve them, rewarding ourselves for accomplishment.

Moira also said that having routine in these challenging times, and developing daily goals around the PERMA model would help us achieve resilience during COVID-19.  Exercise and quality sleep were also listed as priorities.

We were also encouraged to limit access to social media and popular media, alcohol and comfort food.

There was also time given during the presentation to tips on dealing with staff who may be suffering from mental health challenges.

Moira provided a list of contacts to keep handy for dealing with not only our own mental health, but also that of our staff and loved ones.

Members can also download a pdf of her presentation slides in the MEMBERS ONLY section of the website.