Mental health start-up launches training program for Ambulance Victoria as demand for services soar during Covid-19

Mental health start-up launches training program for Ambulance Victoria as demand for services soar during Covid-19

Australian mental health start-up Mindarma has today (July 13th) launched its evidence-based resilience training program across Ambulance Victoria, as the Covid-19 crisis sparks soaring demand for online ways to help employee welfare.

The rollout to Ambulance Victoria’s 7,000 workers coincides with the renaming of the award-winning program to Mindarma from RAW Mind Coach and the launch of a new mental health podcast, hosted by former war correspondent Dean Yates.

Mindarma, supported by the Black Dog Institute, was developed following world first research. The interactive online program was successfully evaluated as part of a randomised control trial (RCT) with workers from Fire and Rescue NSW. The research was carried out by Dr. Sadhbh Joyce. The Mindarma co-founder is a psychologist who has treated clients with workplace psychological injury since 2009.

“Since Covid-19 struck, we have seen incredible demand for online mental health training, with organisations across all industries seeking practical ways to support their workers,” said Jamie Watson, Mindarma CEO and co-founder.

The three-year old start-up has had a four-fold increase in inquiries and has had to respond rapidly to meet demand. “It’s pleasing to see so many employers making mental health a true priority and seeking to equip staff with skills and strategies that can help them contend with the challenges we face,” said Watson.

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, Mindarma has delivered its program to hundreds of frontline health workers and a multitude of organisations across the community sector. The program is being rolled out to 1,000 NSW Health Pathology workers and other organisations including Services Australia, Pacific Hydro, biopharmaceutical firm Abbvie and WorkSafe ACT – Access Canberra. It was also recently rolled out as part of UNSW’s Practical Legal Training program to support graduate lawyers as they enter the workforce.

The new additions join the start-up’s existing client list, which includes Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Ambulance, Corrective Services NSW and Reuters, the world’s largest news provider. The program will soon also be trialled at the Chelsea Westminster Hospital in London.

Dr. Joyce said that a time when workers face mounting mental health challenges, it is important for organisations to become more proactive in their approach to workplace mental health.

“When we equip people with the right skills, we know they are better placed to manage stress effectively and this can play a very important role in protecting their long-term mental health and wellbeing. Research continues to highlight that resilience is not about being tough — rather it’s about developing proactive strategies that bolster our ability to adapt effectively during times of change, uncertainty and adversity,” said Dr. Joyce.

While workplace health and safety training has had a huge impact in reducing physical injuries, most organisations are yet to apply the same preventative approach to mental health, now the biggest cause of long-term absence.

“We have all been taught how to lift a box properly, but very few of us have been taught the right techniques for handling things like difficult thoughts, intense emotions or times of high stress,” said Dr. Joyce. “We aim to make this training ubiquitous, so all workers are far better equipped and protected.”

In creating their program, Mindarma brought together leading experts, the latest research, and a great deal of real-world experience treating workplace mental health issues. Underpinning the development was a desire to make it easy for employers to make a real difference. By taking a proactive approach, employers can build a healthier workforce and dramatically cut costs associated with absenteeism, presenteeism, staff turnover and workers’ compensation.

One unique aspect of Mindarma is that it can be customised to reflect different working environments and workplace-specific stressors. An early focus has been on emergency service agencies and over summer, the company produced extra resources to assist in the recovery process for first responders affected by the bushfire crisis. Since the onset of Covid-19, the need for mental health support has built even further, with demand across all types of industries.

“Our new name Mindarma seeks to capture who we are, which is about helping workers build a form of ‘mind armour’ to protect their mental health. For us, the name Mindarma also honours mindfulness, a core part of the program and the concept of dharma, which is about supporting people to live a life of purpose,” said Watson.

While the name and design are new, the core content of the evidence-based program remains the same, a 10-session e-learning program designed to boost resilience and enhance mental wellbeing.

In Mindarma’s podcast series, Dean Yates will be talking to people with fascinating personal stories of resilience or whose work shines a light on how we can improve workplace mental.

Dean was head of mental health and wellbeing strategy at Reuters for nearly three years until January 2020. Before that he was a journalist, bureau chief and senior editor at Reuters for 23 years. A diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder in early 2016 ended his news career.

Dean was bureau chief in Baghdad during which three of his staff were killed in 2007 and a deputy bureau chief in Jerusalem and Jakarta. He covered the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Indonesia’s Aceh province and the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings. He has been admitted three times to the Ward 17 psychiatric unit in Melbourne.

Dr. Sadhbh Joyce & Jamie Watson

Mindarma was co-founded by Dr. Sadhbh Joyce and Jamie Watson. The married couple combined their skills to create the online program, designed to protect and empower workers. A senior psychologist and researcher, Sadhbh (pronounced Sive) completed her PhD research in 2019 working as part of the University of New South Wales Workplace Mental Health Research Team, in association with the Black Dog Institute.

A copywriter and eLearning specialist, Jamie enjoys bringing essential skills to learners in a fun interactive format that engages and connects.

For more information:
Jamie Watson: Phone: 0401 822 616

Sadhbh Joyce: Phone 0401 29 77 11