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October: Let’s chat about mental health

Many cutters have recently taken part in R U Ok Day. A day to encourage conversations about mental health with those around you, that could change or save a life. In our industry, with its unique challenges - physical demands, job uncertainty, workplace culture, the financial/other demands of running a business, or the added pressure that COVID has put on us all – it’s never been more important to check in and ask each other “R U Ok” ( October is National Mental Health Month, an initiative of the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA), to advocate for and raise awareness of mental health. Mental illness already affects one in five Australians annually, without including the many more impacted by the current pandemic. Whilst we are constantly breaking down the stigma around mental health in our industry, we still have more work to do. The more individuals and organisations support the campaign, the more we reduce the stigma surrounding mental ill health and play our part in creating mentally healthy communities. Around the country, there are a host of activities planned to celebrate the month and World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October (see here). One suggestion for celebrating the month is to start a calendar for the month looking at what you or your organisation are doing every day during October to promote mental health and wellbeing. It might be a calendar entry to take some time out for a virtual coffee with someone that day, write down some moments of gratitude, watching your favourite movie or planning a walk. If you can get your whole organisation involved in the calendar, even better! Not sure where to start? Check out these calendars already made up for you – Way Ahead Look After Your Mental Health Australia “One of the most useful supports for me in the past year, was chatting to my AWISE colleagues about what they are doing to address mental health in their organisations and get new ideas on old problems.” Keshia Noronho, founding member of AWISE and Director of Fronius Australia said. “Whilst it started out as general conversations around what support systems and activities we have implemented within our organisations, it has led to more in depth discussions around mental health and a stronger support system whenever challenges arise. We have implemented more support systems in our company as a result such as company funded counselling and an EAP support program. No matter what time or problem it is, the brains trust always seems to be ready. I feel like this is something the cutter community can do really well, come together to share best practice on Mental Health and support each other to lighten the load.” Sam Craft, founding member of AWISE and Director of NRG Solar shared “Mental health is big on our radar at NRG. A few practical things we have implemented to help are: • we "celebrate" mental health days and talk about mental health on those days with everyone in the office, • We hold weekly mindfulness session same time every Wednesday for whoever wants to join, • We do yearly Professional Development days which usually includes something on stress management, • We start work at 8AM on Fridays and make sure the guys on the road are back in in the office by 3.30PM - we then spend 30 minutes going around to each person sharing a story about a colleague that cared or was sustainable that week, • We offer flexible time for people if they want to undertake counselling • Each manager/team leader does a one on one with staff weekly which has worked really well - AWISE and Solar Cutters are currently working on some wider initiatives to support the industry, there is more information coming shortly. In the meantime, we are very interested to hear what you are doing to celebrate National Mental Health month in your workplace and would love to share these to the solar community. Either share on our Facebook page: or contact us here to share!

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