For many people, feeling hopeful about what the future holds is central to maintaining good mental health.
It’s one of the reasons the COVID-19 pandemic has been so disruptive to the wellbeing of individuals, families and teams.
But the uncertainty we all face at this time doesn’t mean hope can’t be cultivated within workplaces. That’s the message from Adelaide mental health and wellbeing expert Rebekah Smith.
As a precursor to Mental Health Week, Smith and her colleague Bel Ryan are hosting a fundraiser with a difference.
The Growing Hope breakfast, on Friday from 8am at Adelaide Oval, will take attendees through a workshop designed to demonstrate how to tackle uncertainty and fear and replace it with a greater sense of hopefulness.
“What we’ve noticed this year is that the degree of uncertainty that people are having to cope with has really impacted on the wellbeing of staff,” Smith said.
“That lack of stability, not knowing what’s coming around the corner, not knowing what to predict for next week, let alone next year, has made people feel like they are on much shakier ground, and there’s a lot of stress associated with physically isolating as well.
“One of our intentions is to change the way that workplaces approach wellbeing and mental health. So we’re hoping to shift some of the conversations around workplace wellbeing at the event.
“The intention for the theme around growing hope is that even though there is still uncertainty around what will happen with our economies, our organisations, with our personal lives, we can still cultivate hope, even if there isn’t a sense of predictability or certainty.”
Smith said that while the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of staff has been felt across all ages and demographics, her observation is that the biggest impact has been on those in their thirties and forties who are parenting small and school-aged kids.
“That struggle for so many people around trying to do their work from home while also trying to do the home schooling part has been extremely stressful for a lot of parents,” Smith said.
“There’s been a lot of discussion coming up around that inner dialogue we have around ‘I’m not doing this well enough’, I’m not being a good enough employee, I’m not being a good enough parent. And just feeling really inadequate.
“We’re going to be taking people through a workshop experience that is going to give them some practical strategies for how to identify where they are at right now, how to move through what they’re going through, and how to cultivate hope.”
As the keynote speaker for the event, Smith, who is a Master Resilience Instructor for SAHMRI’s Wellbeing and Resilience Centre, will share her own lived experience with mental health as a person who had an eating disorder in her teens, and was diagnosed with bipolar in her 20s.
“Some of the stories I’m going to share link back to some of the old ways we used to think about mental health in my household growing up,” Smith said.
“A lot of the narratives I heard in my household growing up were really negative around mental illness and there was that link between mental illness equates to weakness.
“I’m going to share with the audience a sense that it is really hopeful how much that language and narrative has changed.”
Tickets are $126 for an individual or $527 for a team table of six. Proceeds raised through the event will be donated to Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation.
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