Q&A with our new Mental Health Advisor

Introducing Stephanie Thompson, SuperFriend's new Mental Health Advisor. Steph has been an advisor and thought leader in the mental health sector for over 10 years, supporting workplaces in creating mentally healthy work environments.

What is your biggest driver for caring about workplace mental health?

I started my career as a Social Worker, supporting young people in their mental health. I know that there are many factors that predispose people to mental health challenges including childhood trauma, genetics, family experiences and systems well before they enter the workforce. I see the workplace as being this amazing opportunity to be a protective factor and an enabler to positive wellbeing. I also had my own experience of mental distress where my leader and workplace were fundamental to my recovery, and I believe everyone should have the right to that kind of workplace response.

What are your pet peeves in this sector?

I don't have many pet peeves, but I believe strongly in data as well as the incorporation of lived experience in program design, so I do feel disappointed when I see initiatives being promoted that have not gone through adequate rigor and are not placing the ultimate end user at the forefront.  

What are you most excited about now that you've been at SuperFriend for over a month?

There is a lot to be excited about at SuperFriend.  Our updated Thriving Workplace Index is something that I see as being really unique. More than a workplace assessment tool, it gives a holistic overview and provides specific insights into what issues the workplace is facing. Then in my role as Advisor, I can support and guide workplaces in how to make changes to improve the workplace, and even support in the implementation of these changes. I am also really excited about our strategy in doing this, through engaging other experts in the sector who are some of the best-in-class in their field through our Preferred Provider Initiative.

What can workplaces do, in the short term, if they have budget or resource constraints?

There are a lot of things workplaces can do in the short term with limited resources. Although we know that to create meaningful improvements to the mental health of a workplace and to mitigate psychosocial risks, an integrated approach over time looking at every domain is best practice. Looking at leadership is a really great place to start. Ensure the People Leaders you are hiring understand how to manage teams, make that part of your recruitment strategy, onboarding and regular upskilling. Put in place e-learning training as a minimum to increase mental health literacy, and prioritise connection amongst teams. 

For workplaces who don’t have budget as a constraint, what can they do to make a genuine positive impact?

For workplaces who have had the backing from leadership and had budget provided in order to shift the dial on their workplace mental health, looking into conducting a holistic assessment of sorts can be a great place to start. Using SuperFriends Thriving Workplace Index to assess how your workplace is going underneath our five domains, and benchmark against the national and industry average allows your workplace to have a strong idea of where you are at. This data can be broken down into geographical location, work role types and much more.  This information is a great springboard to develop a mental health strategy all based on shifting the dial and putting in place meaningful solutions that are targeted specifically to the areas where the organisation needs the most attention. The tool is holistic and will help your workplace to get a full picture and avoid wellbeing washing. 

Interested in improving wellbeing in your workplace? Ask us how we can help you thrive!


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