PwC Australia gives workers the Green Light to Talk about mental health
Image: PwC’s Green Light To Talk Advocates
In 2018, PwC Australia (PwC) launched their “Green Light to Talk,” program on World Mental Health Day. The aim of the program was to cultivate an open culture where workers could comfortably share mental health concerns – resulting in positive mental health experiences in the workplace.
The program has three key aims:
- reduce the stigma associated with mental health
- increase awareness about the support available for workers
- positively promote the importance of conversations about mental health at work.
As part of the Green Light to Talk program, PwC trained over 250 of its people across all levels and offices in Australia – who are known as “Green Light to Talk Advocates” – in:
- Mental Health First Aid
- Domestic and Family Violence First R
Kate Connors, PwC Australia’s Chief Mental Health Officer and Registered Psychologist says
At PwC, our focus on mental health is one of the ways we demonstrate that we care and is crucial in empowering our people to speak up when they need help.
Green Light to Talk Advocates
Advocates of the program (also known as mental health first aiders and domestic and family violence first responders) are identifiable by physical lanyards, green circles around online photos; and internal support websites. They have been trained to support workers who need assistance with a mental health problem or crisis until professional help is received, or the crisis is resolved, as well as help people navigate referral pathways.
Advocates offer an opportunity to discuss mental health in a safe and non-judgmental space. At PwC, the advocates role include:
- recognising signs and symptoms of emerging mental health issues, and/or domestic and family violence
- openly engaging in conversations around mental health and domestic and family violence
- challenging stigma within teams and the broader firm
- understanding and directing workers to the range of support available
- assisting workers in navigating and accessing support, resources and referral pathways
- championing mental health and wellness related initiatives in teams.
PwC is continuing to look at opportunities where it can strengthen mental health focus – including building mental health literacy across the entire organisation.
We still have areas to focus on – we notice pockets of greater engagement in the approach and pockets where engagement is lower. We’re aiming for more consistency….As a community, we need to do more to prevent mental illness, as well as improve access to support services to improve mental health outcomes. At PwC we are committed to doing more work in this space.
And Kate continues to emphasise the importance of mental health in the workplace.
We spend approximately a third of our lives at work. This means the workplace has an incredibly important role to play in driving health and social outcomes for our community. Workplaces are therefore a key place where the human need for connection and a sense of belonging can positively contribute to the health and wellbeing of our communities.
For organisations still building up support systems for mental health, Kate suggests:
- Find leaders, who can share vulnerabilities and challenges about managing their mental health, to open conversations and reduce stigma
- Have clear guidelines around the role of mental health first aiders/advocates to help this succeed across the organisation
- Integrate “non-professional” support systems with professional support systems like Employee Assistance Programs and make sure mental health first aiders have support systems in place too.
Connect in with our membership network
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Changing workplaces: organising an accessible virtual presentation
With much of the country in lockdown, and with the ever-changing nature of work, organisations are pivoting to virtual events and presentations. While it’s a necessity to conduct presentations virtually during the pandemic, we may also see some events continue to offer both a virtual and in-person option.
Australian Network on Disability has the top tips to assist you in prioritising accessibility in the virtual world.
Offer accessibility from the outset
Just as you would for an in-person event, reach out to both your attendees and those presenting and ask the simple question: are there any accessibility requirements you need?
This could be anything from captions to interpreters to copies of the presentation prior to the event – whatever it is, make sure you ask your audience and speakers early on, so you know what you need to include for the virtual event.
Ask what requirements are needed ahead of time, like in the registration process for the presentation.
Provide your speakers with accessibility requirements
If you’re inviting speakers to your virtual event, make sure you let them know what accessibility requirements are needed for their presentations.
- accessible copies of the presentation (such as Word document – sent ahead of the meetings)
- captions for any videos and audio description when appropriate.
- alternative text for images
- speakers to describe images on screen or any graphs during their presentation
- correct colour contrast for presentations
- correct font typefaces like sans serif fonts and font large enough to read (for presentation slides, we recommend size 44 font for headings and size 32 for font text).
If the presenters are joining virtually, make sure they are also briefed on how to create an optimal accessible presenting space.
- sitting in a well-lit area so your face is clearly seen on camera
- camera positioning allowing face to be fully in frame
- be sure you have checked microphone prior to presentation
- sit in an area with no background noise
- try to minimise any distractions in the background
- say your name before speaking
- speak clearly and at a steady pace
- have only one person speaking at a time and have others mute microphones when not speaking.
Book your interpreters and captioners prior to the event
If interpreters and captioners for the virtual presentation, you will need to book them prior to the meeting. Once the virtual meeting has commenced, remind your audience to pin the interpreters to their screen to be able to see them throughout the virtual presentation if they need to.
Send out presentations to captioners, interpreters and those who have requested it prior to the virtual meeting
Allocate a due date prior to the virtual presentation for speakers to send through their presentations. This will allow you to provide the captioners and interpreters with presentation copies so they can familiarise themselves prior to the virtual presentation.
You should also send an accessible copy of the presentation (e.g an accessible word version that clearly identifies and describes what is on each slide – images, graphs etc) to the attendees ahead of the virtual event. That way attendees can access the presentation prior to the event and follow along on their own personal copies during the event.
If electronic versions are not properly formatted, it can be difficult for screen-readers to navigate them, meaning the information might be read out in the wrong order or be incomplete. Some software, such as Microsoft Office, has an accessibility checker that flags issues with accessibility within the document and suggests ways to address them.
If you’re looking for more tips, including for an in-person event, view our event accessibility checklist.
Igniting Interns’ career considerations by Stepping Into the unknown
Stepping Into offer interns with disability a chance for paid work experience. Alongside a dedicated supervisor and on-the job training that can kickstart their careers – interns are also gaining additional benefits. Participating in Stepping Into has led some interns into making changes in their career trajectory, changes in their industry goals or even changes in how they can advocate for themselves in the workforce.
No one knows that more than Stepping Into alumni, former interns, Dragan Tomic and Jeanette Chan.
Making workplace adjustments work for you
Jeanette Chan participated in the program twice at the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. It was through these two experiences that she learnt about what workplace adjustments she needed to bring her best and most authentic self to work.
Figuring out your workplace adjustments is a learning process. It’s okay to not know what you need from the get-go, and it’s definitely normal for these to change over time.
As Jeanette was working out what workplace adjustments worked best for her, she also learnt how to advocate for herself, developing the confidence to provide necessary feedback to her supervisors.
No one can really know what helps you to perform your best, so it’s on you to figure that out and communicate it to make it happen.
Being comfortable in providing feedback and asking for what she needed has been crucial in creating an environment that allows her to bring her best self to work.
Changes in career trajectories
Dragan Tomic was studying a Master of Business, majoring in Information Technology when he participated in Stepping Into for the second time.
His placement at the Bureau of Meteorology as an IT Management Program Services Coordinator exposed him to new areas of industry. While his degree lent itself to areas like knowledge management and project management, the placement uncovered a new area of business accessibility.
Because of that exposure, Dragan says he is now
exploring working with disability advocacy companies, or accessibility consultancy.
The placement also allowed Dragan to experience a fantastic workplace culture first-hand, and has now pivoted into looking for jobs in the Australian public service sector.
Making work, work for you
Another change Jeanette learnt through the program was the change in her perspective of workplace. Instead of making herself fit into an organisation, she gained the courage, confidence and perspective to think about what the organisation could do for her.
My perspective shifted from figuring out how I could fit into a workplace’s norms and culture, to figuring out how I could make it fit me. Instead of trying to appear ‘normal,’ I’m learning to figure out what helps me at my best and how to make it happen.”
The program was also responsible for another change in Jeanette’s life – becoming a Peer Ambassador at SANE Australia, a national charity focused on complex mental health issues.
She encourages other students to get involved with the program.
Do it! Being a part of Stepping Into taught me so much about myself.
Like Jeanette, Dragan’s perspective of work also shifted.
The biggest takeaway for me was having worked in a team that was so different to what I expected.
Dragan credits the Stepping Into program for helping him gain a large amount of self-confidence, alongside supportive colleagues and a supportive manager.
Dragan also learnt new skills to take forward with him into future roles.
Be open minded and take every opportunity you can get.
Host an intern
If you are a member and would like to provide interns like Jeanette and Dragan an opportunity, get involved with Stepping Into.
Are you a university student who would like to know more about Stepping Into?
If you’re a student or a jobseeker who would like to know more about the Stepping Into program, view our website.
R U OK DAY – Thursday, 9 September
Next Thursday, 9 September is R U OK day. R U OK day is based around the simple premise that “a conversation could save a life.” For the past 18 months, Australians have shown resilience in the face of trying times, but we encourage you to reach out to your family, friends, colleagues and co-workers to ask the simple question – “are you okay?”
In the lead up to R U OK day, we encourage you to look at some of the resources that can support you to reach out to ones who are close to you from the R U OK website, including guidance on how to get conversations starting.
More than that, we encourage you to reach out for support, too. You don’t have to wait for R U OK day to do so. Reach out to your friends or family – utilise your workplaces mental health support system – or use one of these resources:
- Utilise the Black Dog Institute’s digital tools and apps
- Use ReachOut’s tools and apps
- Find R U OK day resources you can use every day
R U OK day can be a good place to start the conversation. But we encourage you to continue these conversations throughout the rest of the year, too. No matter what time of year it is – “a conversation could save a life.”