S36: Authentic HR: Nurturing a mentally, healthy workplace.

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By September 5, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Maxine Corbett

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Authentic HR: Nurturing a mentally, healthy workplace.

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Maxine has a Bachelor of Business in Human Resource Management, a post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management and Occupational Safety and Health,and a Post Grad Diploma in Not for Profit Management. Maxine trained in mediation early on, and has recently reignited that passion and upgraded those skills, receiving certification from, and associate membership with, AMINZ (Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand).
Maxine has worked in Human Resource Management for over 25 years, with 15 of those years supporting not for profit organisations. Maxine believes in positive, authentic HR; following a strengths based model and truly believing that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Maxine prides herself in her work and her extensive knowledge of the not for profit sector; achieving the best outcomes for each not for profit in a way that respects and supports their values, vision and culture.

Coaching, partnership, collaboration - whatever it takes to empower people to deliver great results.
50-80% of New Zealanders will experience mental health and/or addiction challenges in their lifetime.
Around 1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness or significant mental distress in any year.

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand talks about the four dimensions of mental health; on the vertical, we have mostly flourishing opposing mostly languishing, and on the horizontal, we have a lack of mental distress/illness opposing mental distress/illness. New Zealanders roughly sit as 25% flourishing, 25% doing okay, 30% languishing and 20% currently experiencing mental distress. It is also important to note that people move between these experiences over time and can experience more than one state simultaneously. Given those statistics, how do we create a mentally healthy workplace?
Well, first we acknowledge them and acknowledge that we haven't been the best at supporting mental health at work.
Now we invest in practices that will support and engage some truly wonderful people that have been traditionally stigmatised, treated with impatience, intolerance and tiresome disdain.
So how do we do it?
1. Change our language in policy and practice:
- refer to people as people first and add specific characteristics only as required.
- avoid referring to people as their illness
- don't extend the nature of the person's illness with terms such as chronic, persistent or severely
- avoid emotionally negative terms such as victim or suffering from
- emphasize abilities not limitations
- avoid offensive expressions such as psycho or crazy
- avoid metaphoric references to illnesses, such as a schizophrenic situation
- refer to people as contributing members of the team, rather than a burden or a problem
2. Challenge the old ways
3. Promote "wellbeing" at work
- connect
- give
- take notice
- keep learning
- be active
4. Role model wellbeing as a priority in our own work life
5. Engage in practices for working "well"
- take a holistic approach
- promote communication within teams
- include your team in policy development and practice for positive mental health
- incorporate individual wellness plans into your annual calendar
6. Address mental health problems
7. Acknowledge and minimise workplace stress
8. Eliminate bullying

Make a change today!

Learning Objectives

Learning Objective 1: Small but do-able changes that will start a progessive and positive ripple effect in the working lives of people with mental health concerns.

Learning Objective 2: A process for long-term, sustainable change in the promotion of positive mental health.


WHO. 2014. Mental health: strengthening our response. Geneva: World Health Organization. URL: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs220/en/ (accessed 19 February 2016).

Lennan, M., & Wyllie, A. (2005). Employer attitudes and behaviours relating to mental illness. Wellington: Ministry of Health. Mental Health Commission (1998)

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