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New mental health tool will help people develop more positive employment mindset

- June 11, 2020 3 MIN READ

1000s of unemployed Australians with mental health conditions or physical and learning disabilities will be able to access specialised coaching to help them gain employment.

The service is a joint project between leading Disability Employment Services (DES) provider, atWork Australia and Monash University. It was developed following reports that over 600,000 Australians have applied for JobSeeker support via Centrelink. By registering for the payment,  those Australians with mental health issues will now have access to support services.

“Approximately 272,000[1] people access DES in Australia, 41 per cent1 of those with mental health conditions. We expect this figure to increase in the coming weeks and months as many Australians will be experiencing heightened mental health conditions due to the current pandemic[2], and finding themselves out of work through this time,” says Steve Carder, DES General Manager of atWork Australia.

“With many entering the DES system for the first time, suffering from lost confidence due to redundancy, or financial stress, it’s more important than ever that they are provided holistic support to look after their mental health, as well as access to potential jobs,” he adds.

To help people cultivate a positive mindset and to improve their outlook on life, atWork Australia in partnership with Monash University, has developed Positivum, an evidence-based assessment and health coaching program. The innovative tool profiles clients and provides insights into the areas they can work on to overcome personal challenges that could hold them back from finding work.

Each Positivum participant receives a tailored, interactive programme that they can complete online at their own pace. This includes practical solutions and tools to help address negative beliefs and perceptions relating to health and work, support to understand and live by their personal values and coping skills for managing stress and anxiety, such as practicing mindfulness, goal setting, or keeping a mood journal.

“For most individuals, simply participating in work provides benefits to general health and wellbeing, while reducing psychological distress[3],” says Dorothy Frost, General Manager of Research and Innovation at MedHealth Group. “As such, cultivating a mindset that will help in gaining employment can be the key to securing these long-term benefits.”

Sharah Smith, a Customer Support Consultant with atWork Australia, says Positivum helped her find the right mindset for employment following years of job searching while coping with depression, anxiety and agoraphobia.

“Before finding work, I struggled to talk to other people to the point that I couldn’t leave the house. The hardest part was that I didn’t think I could be fixed, I just thought that’s how I was always going to be.

“Positivum made me question things that I took for granted or thought I couldn’t change. One of the first lessons I took away from it was how to break tasks down into bitesize chunks, which is how the program is also set out. This made a lot of other learnings possible, as I would have normally found this overwhelming,” Smith said.

“Positivum also helped me work on my resilience from home, making it easier to take small steps out of the house and interact with the world. From there I was able to address troubles with early onset insomnia and panic attacks through breathing exercises and mindfulness coping mechanisms.

“I now have a toolkit that not only has helped me manage my mental health but become a productive member of a team where I now have friends and get to support other people with disability, injury or health condition looking for work, to help them find their dream role. I’d tell anyone in my position to work on themselves and their mindset to help them find and enjoy work that can truly change your life, as it has for me,” Sharah concludes.

For more information about atWork Australia and the Positivum program, go here.

References
[1] Australian Government DES Caseload and commencements data – 31 December 2019 https://lmip.gov.au/default.aspx?LMIP/Downloads/DisabilityEmploymentServicesData/DESCaseloadandCommencementsData
[2] Black Dog Institute, COVID-19 evidence and recommendations https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20200319_covid19-evidence-and-reccomendations.pdf
[3] Australian and New Zealand consensus statement on health and the benefits of work – Position Statement https://www.racp.edu.au/docs/default-source/advocacy-library/realising-the-health-benefits-of-work.pdf

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