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Why prioritising mental health is so important

Australia, September 2021

A conversation can go a long way.

Prioritising mental health and wellbeing is always important, but during these demanding days it’s never been more vital to check in with friends, loved ones and our work families to find out how they’re going.

Thursday, Sept 9, 2021 in Australia is R U OK? Day. In the spirit of the day, at Mr Yum we’ve blocked out an hour in everyone’s diaries to close laptops and use the time to catch up with a friend , call parents, go for a walk with a work mate , or connect with a colleague in the hospitality industry and take a meaningful moment together.

A conversation can go a long way and that’s why we think it’s so important to take a moment to ask someone, Are you really OK?

But taking care of mental health is not a one-day-a-year event and that’s why Mr Yum has a no-questions-asked policy for team members choosing to take a mental health day.

Mental health is as important as physical health and there’s no difference between taking a day off when feeling burned out and taking time off because of a cold or flu.

Mr Yum has also partnered with startup Frankie Health, offering team members in Australia and UK a confidential “mental health sidekick”, which helps to flag when someone might be feeling burned out or overwhelmed, providing digital exercises and the ability to connect with local therapists and counsellors as needed, at no cost to the employee.

To continue to normalise conversations around mental health at work, team members are encouraged to share their experiences, the tools that work for them to achieve work-life balance and any resources that they use regularly for their mental health and wellbeing.

Here is a selection of responses from the team:

What does mental health and wellbeing mean to you?

- Everyone has mental health, some are fortunate to have good mental health the majority of the time, some the opposite, most a mixture of the two.

- I try and look at symptoms as if I had a cold: why do I feel tired all the time? Why is my heart pounding when I wake up? Why am I irritable? Why aren’t I sleeping well? It’s time for a tune up! 

- I really try to be conscious of when I’m having a bad day and acknowledge when I’m having a good day but I usually don’t pick up on the bad days until it’s too late and forget to stop and smell the roses when I’m feeling good.

What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you achieve that goal?

- This isn’t something I consider if I’m enjoying my work, but if things aren’t going well it affects me negatively and I have to step back and contextualise things.

- I need to remind myself that sometimes work needs to take the back seat and I need to be present with my partner and likewise sometimes work needs to take priority. Striking that balance isn’t easy but something I try to always keep front of mind when I’m at home.

Any routines/habits that you’ve started/stopped?

- I’ve stopped thinking that everybody cares about everything I do. I try and limit the time I spend on social media and stop comparing my happiness to others. I’ve stopped obsessing over things that aren’t in my control. In those situations, the only thing I can control is how I react/cope with these situations.

- When I know I need some “me time” I usually turn to my XBox. Focusing on a game really helps me drown out the chaos of my thoughts and just blank out for a couple of hours.

What tools/tricks/books/podcasts etc would you recommend? 

- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, which really helped me put my own issues into context. I try and spend a couple of hours a day without my phone nearby. 

- I really recommend the Dyl & Friends podcast - episode 81 with Emma Murray. Her credentials are nearly endless but her work with the Richmond Football Club before and after their premiership years makes for a really interesting listen.