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Raising the red flag for workplace mental health

FIFTY Tasmanian businesses will compete in the inaugural Mind Games Race for Research in October to raise money for workplace mental health research at the Menzies Institute.

Mind Games founder and energy health director Sherri Ring said she was inspired by her decades as a workplace health specialist and wanted to promote better mental health at work.

“I’m seeing a lot of stress, anxiety and depression everyday with my clients and I’d like to build awareness and raise money for the research,” she said.

“An important aspect of this event is educating local businesses, big and small, about what they can do to make their workplaces better for the mental health of their employees.”

Ms Ring said she hoped to raise $50,000 for the event’s first year.

Menzies researcher Larissa Bartlett said the funds raised from the event would be vital in conducting further research into the issue.

“We spend a lot of time at work, we define ourselves by what we do, and the way in which we feel about our work and are able to conduct our work is informed very much by our health and wellbeing,” she said.

“Mental health research funding is actually very difficult to get a hold of.

“Donations enable us to progress early stage studies so we’re able to get sufficient evidence that will help us secure larger grant funding for the larger studies, so [the Mind Games] is really enabling this type of contribution.”

The chief executive officer of gold sponsor TasNetworks, Lance Balcombe, said mental health was a challenge to industries, businesses and the community.

“One of the things you’ve got to think about regarding mental health in the workplace is breaking the stigma around it,” he said

“Put up your hand and say I actually need a bit of help, ask your colleagues, ask your leaders, even raise it with your family.

“The more we can do to research into mental health awareness and what triggers it, the more it’s going to benefit the community and also ultimately benefit our workforce.”

Mr Balcombe said TasNetworks was “raising the red flag” on workplace mental health and encouraged other businesses to join the Mind Games.

“One of the things I’ve done is challenged Hazell Bros to join in the race,” he said.

“Not only is this going to encourage great team ability within the businesses themselves, but also build a sense of community across these businesses that we’re all pitching in and helping to fund mental health awareness.”

The Mind Games Race for Research will be held on Friday 18 October on the Hobart waterfront and will involve teams tackling 10 challenges.

Caption: From left, Menzies researcher Larissa Bartlett, Mind Games founder Sherri Ring and TasNetworks chief executive officer Lance Balcombe raise the red flag to launch the Mind Games.