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Why waste contractors need a culture of mental toughness now

The Waste Contractors Recycling Association (WCRA) recently ran a ZOOM update for members on how to deal with mental health issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The session was introduced by Work Options southern NSW and ACT regional manager Ben Humphreys, who detailed the services available to employers for the protection of workers from workplace mental health risks.

Ben advised members “that the enforced social isolation from COVID-19 presents an unprecedented barrier to the mental health of the Australian working population. There is a growing need for waste and recycling contractors to implement a top-down management strategy to encourage a culture of mental toughness throughout their organisation”.

In his address to members, Kompass Consultancy keynote speaker Gaj Ravichandra detailed the current issues faced by workers in a world of uncertainty. Ravichandra highlighted the challenge of first tapping into our own ability to deal with mental toughness and resilience as it is crucial to do so before being able to help others.

“The importance of considering how we can control the controllables, to increase our confidence in making difficult decisions, trying new things that may be perceived to be risky and committing to self-improvement actions on a consistent basis,” he said.

Throughout the presentation, attendees were provided with tangible strategies, such as the use of an employee assistance program and specialised training in areas of mental health specific to their business.

WCRA executive director Tony Khoury stated, “that it is important to create a workplace culture that de-stigmatises mental health as a concept within waste management organisations, with formalised methods of support for workers experiencing periods of low mental health”.