Mental Health Awareness Week: Spotlight on workplaces to boost wellbeing efforts

With Monday marking the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, an expert is highlighting the need for workplaces to boost wellbeing efforts.

Clinical psychologist Dr Dougal Sutherland says employers need to make open conversations a priority.

Dr Sutherland told Newshub COVID-19 has taken a toll this year and workplaces need to take responsibility.

"That's [COVID-19] clearly going to be a major - if people struggle to come to terms with the economic impact of that," he said on Sunday.

He's calling on workplaces to make conversations about mental wellbeing "business as usual".

"When you're catching up with your team members, put that on the agenda all the time."

Dougal Sutherland.
Dougal Sutherland. Photo credit: Victoria University

Dr Sutherland is confident about the future of workplace wellbeing, due to young generations being more open to talking about it.

Parents need to stop sweeping the mental health of their children under the rug, he said.

"That generation of people that are in high school now and have just left high school, as they come into the workforce that's really going to create a culture shift."

This year, The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging Kiwis to remember the challenges we have faced together.

Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson said they want New Zealanders to remember what wellbeing looks like and feels like.

"Believe that wellbeing is possible for everyone," he said.

"Our new normal is quite different. The way we work, go to school and Kura, and connect with friends and whānau have all changed this year - so if you're feeling off-balance right now, know that it's completely normal to feel that way.

"Mental Health Awareness Week is a timely reminder of how important it is to embrace the simple things we can do each day to really help strengthen our wellbeing."

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