Associate Professor Samuel Harvey
Chief Psychiatrist and Director of Discovery, Head of the Workplace Mental Health Research Program
Black Dog Institute
What are you/your organisation currently focusing on in terms of workplace health and wellbeing?
The Workplace Mental Health (WPMH) Research Program is focused on understanding the relationship between mental health and workplaces. Our team has focused on emergency service workers to develop renowned intervention programs combatting work-related mental ill-health.
The WPMH program has utilised the outputs of this research to focus on a broader scope of industries. Our two main research aims are: (1) understanding the link between work and mental health, and; (2) developing and testing new workplace interventions that can create more mentally healthy workplaces.
What aspect of workplace health and wellbeing does your organisation do well in?
The Black Dog Institute prioritises health and wellbeing in its research, practices and internal structures. The institute’s primary goal is to create a mentally healthier world through innovations in science, medicine, education, public policy and knowledge translation.
The Institute itself shows a commitment to healthy workplaces by prioritising flexible workplace structures, staff mindfulness sessions and workshops, an approachable and engaged leadership team, as well as an abundance of self-care resources.
What’s your biggest challenge working in workplace health and wellbeing?
The confluence of topics that require research despite the limited resources available to create in-depth knowledge on a subject.
How does WayAhead Workplaces add value to your organisation’s health and wellbeing program?
As a research team, our primary goal is to create and answer research questions that are relevant to the real world. One of our great challenges is that we lack the exposure to industries, and therefore, what those pertinent questions are. Being a part of WayAhead Workplaces provides us with a fantastic opportunity to speak with key industry stakeholders about workplace mental health. We have found that these discussions have been pivotal in helping us decipher what direction our research can be oriented and what research programs would be relevant to the real world.
We have been fortunate to have created some incredibly productive collaborations as a result of our affiliation with WayAhead.
How do you deal with stress?
My team places high importance on a flexible work life to combat stress. I maintain that my team and I should be able to change their environment based on how they believe they can meet their goals most effectively.
What are the key issues and considerations for people in workplace health and wellbeing roles?
I find often that colleagues working in workplace health and wellbeing roles can overlook their own personal health. The content of the research we deal with is naturally distressing and it is imperative that this is addressed for the safety and wellbeing of the researchers themselves.
How do you switch off from work?
Spending time with my family and playing golf!
What is your best time-saving tip?
Effective communication. Being clear with people ensures that you always have enough time.
What do you think the future of work health and wellness programs look like?
Exploring broader themes in workplaces and their relationship to mentally healthier environments.