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Early morning starts have always been a routine for mother and mental health nurse Kellyanne Schumacher. Kellyanne saw herself working remotely most days during the chaotic period of COVID-19 having taken maternity leave, but she still kept herself busy providing health support during the entire period.
“I would start my day as early as 7am after getting my toddler ready for the day. I’d contact clients via emails, and manage spot fires and risks. As a mental health nurse, I helped clients manage their DVA claims and provide health support during this process. I would liaise between DVA departments, external health clinicians and support engagement with health providers in their area. I aimed to reduce the stress as they went through the DVA claims process”.
Prior to Kellyanne’s current role at the DVA, she also worked as a suicide prevention offier for the ADF and travelled to different bases to provide mental health support and services. She says that she was fortunate to be introduced to her new role at the DVA in February, which was during the earlier stages of the pandemic, when it wasn’t as severe. However, having only gained one week of training in the office before working remotely, Kellyanne was met with a few challenges.
“The biggest challenge was commencing a new role in a week and then having to navigate legislation at home and meet new colleagues at work via Skype. Work-life balance was something I needed to work on. I certainly sat on the computer and prepared for the next day in the evenings. Daycare drop offs were organised. We even bought a new house, and moved during the pandemic”.
However, Kellyanne says that the support from Randstad Australia, as well as the DVA employees really helped her feel valued and part of the team despite feeling isolated at home. She appreciated all of the morning calls and open group chats which enabled her to ask away all the questions she needed answered as a new starter.
As an individual that was required to isolate during COVID-19, Kellyanne brings to our attention the importance of considering individual, social and environmental factors when aiming to build resilience in the workplace.
From a mental health perspective, take time out and focus on those things that bring you joy. Avoid excessive alcohol. Spend time with family. Switch off the computer. Read less news, it can be stressful. Be aware of your capabilities and your limitations. Get support from your family and employer. Try and stay engaged with others. Keep moving. Working your body is extremely important for your mental health
“Acknowledgement of the staff that had to isolate and daily check ins are great. Even to talk about something as light as reality TV is a good balance to the emotionally draining work that we do. It’s a great way to bring the team together and engage the team. The other thing that works can do is resilience training, goal setting and focusing on individual strengths”.
Kellyanne further asks Australians to take the pandemic as a serious issue and to get tested when they feel any symptoms. She believes that supporting and acknowledging those who are isolated in times like this is highly important, especially those who are elderly and more vulnerable due to health issues.
“From a mental health perspective, take time out and focus on those things that bring you joy. Avoid excessive alcohol. Spend time with family. Switch of the computer. Read less news, it can be stressful. Be aware of your capabilities and your limitations. Get support from your family and employer. Try and stay engaged with others. Keep moving. Working your body is extremely important for your mental health”.