Written by J L Ruston
Hands on our hearts, how many of us can say that at some point in our life, we have seen someone that could do with our help, or our voice and instead of doing something, we look the other way. It’s ok to feel something right now. Literally everyone, even the kindest buttercup glowing people in this world have done it, at least once in their life. But when do we say enough is enough, I need to hold out my hand?
Liz Tully from Brisbane Australia, had grown up with the parental roles of the giving and people serving sweet kind. She had been working in Corporate HR for human resources for 20 years when, what began as a vibrant role, later became compliant in being unadaptive to the new requirements of our time.
“Businesses that were quite good in saying well, this person’s had cancer or this person’s broken their leg or whatever it may be, but i’d like to sort of get them back into the workplace. But where, what I saw the big gap was, if somebody’s had a mental health condition, how do we talk about that? How do we talk to the person about that? How do we reintroduce them back into the workplace? How do the rest of the colleagues speak about it?” explained Liz.
The next year the world of Liz Tully was positively tempestuous and life changing for herself and the many.
To jump from a longstanding position, where you know the structure and stability, to go for something completely new and even more so self managed that is backed with a stubborn purpose to do good, the question, ‘Do i go for it?’ is SO SCARY. But eventually, when you are a person that is driven by the health and success of others like Liz, the question, ‘Is this the right thing to do?’ will dominate until action is the only resolution.
In a budding need to be of more service to people suffering unjustness in a workplace due to miss understanding and or handling towards their mental health conditions, Liz became a Mental Health First Aid Instructor. QUIT HER JOB of 20 years and now successfully works for herself as the Owner & Founder of Mental Wealth at Work, where she’s bringing her workshops to businesses and industries that are falling behind in the field of staff support.
What adds to her empowerment, is that Ms Tully has an agreement with every customer where, if you were to book a mental health state programme, she will donate a day’s computer literacy to Indigenous Australian children and when you book a well being workshop, she will donate a day of domestic violence training to a group of women in India. Stating that, “Yes, I’m giving money but it’s the impact that I’m making.” That is a drive force behind her choices of moral investment.
If you’re not familiar with the differences between mental health first aid and regular first aid, liz breaks down the simplicities below,
- “Some Mental Health First Aid is very similar to regular first aid where a regular first aid is there to be the first responder to it might be an accident or an incident or a slip trip or fall within the workplace for example and so the First Aider isn’t there to fix the issue.
- If somebody falls over and breaks something, first aid is there to assess the situation. If it’s a broken leg, it’s 000 (emergency helpline ie 911-999- whatever your countries code), get an ambulance there. Stay with the person until the appropriate professional outcomes.
- Mental Health First Aid is very similar in the fact that it’s about providing that first response to a person who’s either experiencing a mental health condition for the first time, it could be a worsening of an existing condition or it could be like a crisis situation such as a panic attack or a psychotic episode. So it’s really equipping somebody to not obviously not diagnose but to spot the signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions.
- The most important thing is how to have a mental health conversation with somebody to then be able to direct the person to the most appropriate professional help.
- Just in the same way as if you had somebody with a paper cut you wouldn’t call triple zero, but you would call them for a broken leg. It’s very similar with mental health conditions that if somebody was having a panic attack versus a gambling addiction versus long term depression, there’s different avenues or different treatment options that you were to recommend that the person seeks.”
Recognising that times are changing towards the more accommodating and understanding era for mental health and that ‘change is a journey not a race’ Ms Tully explains that less bake sales and pamphlets need to be held, and more awareness and adoption of a holistic approach with the person’s welfare at the real centre of attention. There is of course the elephant in the room, the double edge sword, an unknown bittersweet future worry of, if you, as the employee, were to make your mental health condition known to your workforce or just your boss, there could be negative repercussions, bullying, not given chances to eccell etc, which is where she says her training comes into play.
A 2022 article on Industry specific mental health issues by the EAP highlights some key industries that see a worrying retrograde in mental health quality.
They observed in Australia that construction workers were 2 times more likely to suicide with around 1 in 5 reported to have a mental health condition with depression leading the way and a recorded 22% of the industry is involved in some kind of substance abuse with ice rising in high numbers. Also equalling other male dominating industries like manufacturing, truckers, rail workers and manufacturing.
Hospitality workers use both illicit and prescription drugs more than ANY OTHER INDUSTRY and a study that found 15% of people working in this field suffer from clinical depression.
70% of health and aged care workers have a recordable increase in psychological distress.
44%, almost half! Workers in the financial and insurance sector said they left their positions all together due to high demanding stress.
All for this and more begs the need for more workplaces to adopt a new line of thinking that targets a very real problem that isn’t excluded to Australia. It is recognised worldwide that the balance has tipped far out of reach of the many without new action stepping in.
“The more people we can educate around mental health conditions, about what it is, what it isn’t and how to actually have that conversation. If you do notice somebody within your team or friend who seems to be struggling, it might be that they’re absent or late from work more often, that they’re not being as productive or they’re just not being themselves.
I inherently think that people want to help sometimes with things like mental health, people avoid having a conversation, but fear of saying the wrong thing. So, I think the person looks depressed, but I don’t want to say anything and put my foot in it or, I think the person might be really struggling but I don’t know what to say to them.
Conversely, you’re brave enough to have that conversation with somebody. Hey, I’ve noticed that you seem depressed or you seem down or you seem whatever it is, and the person says, no, no, no, nothing to say there’s nothing.
Then there can be this frustration where, especially if it’s somebody close to you, and you know them fairly well and you know that something is going on. But the person doesn’t want to seek help or doesn’t want to acknowledge that there’s a problem, that can also cause division and there’s many, many reasons why people either don’t recognise they have got a mental health condition, or they don’t want to disclose that they do. So what would you say? The more education that we can put around that then the better.”
Your contribution could easily save lives! Creating safe conversation is the first step towards creating a mentally healthy workplace environment, and to work with Liz Tully, you not only contribute towards a healthy standing workplace, you also contribute to people all over the world. Liz explains her process through B1G1 which stands for buy 1 give 1
“The United Nations have got 17 SDGs development goals in things like poverty, water stewardship, climate change, there’s all these different sorts of categories. They operate globally, where they support causes or charities that are non for profits and align with each of these sustainability goals. It was really important to me to support an Australian charity as well as an overseas charity as well.”
Through B1G1’s website you can also track the progress of the cause you are donating to and watch in real time the impact that your kindness can have on lives.
“It’s a great concept because businesses can interact. I’m a sole trader, I’m a really small business and it’s an affordable thing for me to do, and so businesses of all sizes, they can also almost automate it. For example, every time I send an invoice, I’ll plant a tree in the rainforest of, you know, wherever. It’s automatic giving and it’s a really nice, cool thing to do.”
A moral intuition was installed into Liz since infantry. Liz’s mother, who is a strong influence in her actions today, worked in a school for partially sighted children and would get Liz involved in holiday gift card writing and various fundraising events. In the years later Liz has been consistent in helping Australians reach their educational goals through a partnership with the Smith family and long walks to keep mental health awareness at the forefront of people’s thoughts. Now by aligning her own business which has a core of sunshine alone with helping external causes Liz is really creating a circle of great will to humanity by circulating her gains back to someone else that could also do with a boost.
If you feel like your company could benefit from mental health first aid training, or if you’re an individual who wants to know how to respond to a close one who is suffering, then you can contact liz through her website, https://mentalwealthatwork.com.au/ or directly at email@example.com.
With mental health deteriorating across the board, the time of ignorance and brush over has to linger to an end so we can protect the ones that we love the most from being beaten down by a system that is supposed to support vitality. A year of intentional action packed adaptation could mean countless more thriving successes in staff happiness and therefore more likely commitment. Now is the time to have the conversations and get all cards out on the table in a healthy way, and if you’re the kind of person to always say the wrong thing then that’s exactly what Liz is here to help you out with. Great work Ms tully, your impactful actions are making waves beyond reason!
P.S. Are you a truck driver or work in the supply chain sector? Liz shares Healthy heads in trucks and sheds. “It’s great that they have specific free programmes for people like truck drivers who are not sitting in front of a computer. It’s an app, so you can log on and do all sorts of different activities and exercises. You can receive free mental health support through the app. Their whole business is tailored to help that sector.”