Wear White To Work Day

Good mental health is important for everyone, no matter your gender, age, profession or life circumstances. Nothing points to this more than the rates of suicide and mental illness in Australia.

Statistics show that 2017 saw an increase of 9% in suicides from the previous year. Over 3,000 Australians took their lives in 2017 and of those, 75% were men. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders showed a suicide rate of double that of non-Indigenous Australians.

It’s not just shocking suicide statistics. Mental illness is prevalent in our communities. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that 45% of Australians will experience a common mental disorder at some point in their lives, including disorders such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and social phobia.

According to SANE Australia, those with mental illness are seven times more likely to commit suicide.

These are issues worth talking about. That’s why several organisations have set up support systems for Australians, including ones targeting Aussie men, who are at highest risk. MensLine Australia and Gotcha4Life focus heavily on assisting men who need someone to listen.

The White Wreath Association is another organisation striving to make a difference in suicide prevention. Their aims include beating the stigma around suicide, raising awareness and offering support to those with mental illness and families touched by suicide.

Their upcoming campaign, Wear White to Work Day, is on the 29th of May. It serves to get people talking and raise funds for the cause with gold coin donations.

Pitch in on the 29th by making white awareness tees for your work team and setting up a donation tin. It’s as simple as that.

In the lead up to this campaign, think about ways that you can protect your own mental health and reach out to others.

The Black Dog Institute for mental health research and education lists certain lifestyle factors as protective against suicide risk. Use these to help get you started on prevention and reaching out:

Supportive relationships

If you don’t already have people to spend time with and who are willing to listen, making these connections should be a priority. This might mean being the first to smile in the lunchroom or joining groups with similar interests.

If you notice someone always on their own at work, make the effort to connect. You never know what it could mean to them.

Purpose

A sense of purpose can help people get through the tough days. And it doesn’t have to be something big, like saving the world! If you struggle to feel purpose in your life through what you do for work, volunteering in your spare time or exploring a talent might be a nice way to get started.

Asking for help

Know when to get help. Even if you don’t have people to physically communicate with, there are plenty of support systems in place where you can remain anonymous. In addition to those mentioned above, Lifeline and Beyond Blue are two that offer around the clock help.

There are always many factors involved when it comes to mental health. Healthy eating, physical exercise and stress management are all proven ways to positively affect your mind. These are things you can control, even when life feels out of hand.

Don’t forget to speak to your team about Wear White to Work Day and use it as an opportunity to reach out to others and help prevent suicide.