Adelaide-based Finnbell Consulting has joined forces with Australian charity Healthcare Heartbeat in a bid to improve the mental health of our healthcare professionals currently impacted by the pandemic.

The World Health Organisation has classified workplace burnout as an occupational phenomenon, an experience which has been further amplified within the healthcare sector with the added pressures associated with the pandemic.

Recognising that healthcare professionals are highly resilient and given the recent challenges, Healthcare Heartbeat has been exploring options to support workers with strengthening their personal and professional wellbeing.

Mindfulness-based practices have been found to be an effective response to workplace stress with evidence finding it supports with reducing cortisol (the stress hormone which contributes to anxiety, memory loss and sleep disorders) while also increasing levels of serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness).

Finnbell Consulting’s Director Katheryn Curnow has partnered with Healthcare Heartbeat to facilitate the Positive Intelligence Mental Fitness Program, with an approach tailored to nurses and health professionals.

Katheryn has over 15 years experience working as an Organisational Development Consultant and is an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the International Coach Federation. She is passionate about creatively challenging mindsets, inspiring new possibilities and equipping individuals with the habits, skills and confidence to make a positive life shift.

The Building Mental Fitness Program has been designed to transform participant’s mindsets using principles underpinned by neuroscience, positive psychology and performance science. The compelling research, which included over 500,000 participants, is outlined in the New York Times best seller ‘Positive Intelligence’ by Shirzad Chamine.

Katheryn shared "what I feel sets this Program apart is that it focuses on building new habits for sustained results and addresses the root cause rather than the symptoms of what is ultimately impacting your wellbeing and performance. The cumulative impact by the end of the 7 week Program is substantial".

The Building Mental Fitness Program is offered virtually and includes the use of an exclusive app and online coaching sessions to deliver a dynamic learning experience, ensuring it is equally accessible to nurses in metro and rural locations across Australia. Designed like a ‘mental fitness bootcamp’, the Program entails daily focus sessions and innovative ‘PQ Rep’ exercises to strengthen new neural pathways to form lasting positive habits and a renewed mindset.

Key benefits frequently cited include:

An enhanced sense of wellbeing: including an improved capacity to navigate stress, restore a state of calm and increased confidence by combating self-doubt.

Improved Relationships: learning approaches for how to better relate to others, including strategies for navigating conflict and meaningfully exploring diverse and dissenting perspectives.

Heightened Performance: by taking decisive action, developing ‘outside-the-box’ solutions and learning strategies for effectively facilitating collaboration.

The pressures on our healthcare system and the impact this is having on our workers across the nation continues to rise each day. There are much higher levels of anxiety, workplace stress, burnout, and communication breakdowns amongst healthcare staff than ever before. This is having a significant flow on effect to their families, home life and their mental well-being,” highlights Katheryn.

“Achieving optimal outcomes for patients and their family requires healthcare workers to function at the highest level of health, both physically and psychologically. A study of Emergency Room Nurses in Switzerland found the use of mindfulness-based practices was associated with reduced anxiety, depression, and burnout, and moderated the impact of work-related stresses.

A dynamic group of registered nurses, teachers, and corporate executives, who have all been impacted by the pandemic in diverse ways, recently completed the Mental Fitness Training pilot program, which was sponsored by health care recruitment and labor hire agency Altaira.

Altaira are proud to be part of Healthcare Heartbeat’s journey as we see it’s an innovative way to give back to healthcare workers that have given so much to our industry. They have dedicated their lives to the well-being of our community, often at the expense of their own health and the health of their families. Hopefully over the next few months and beyond we can start seeing improvements in the mental health of our workforce,” highlights Jelena Giro, Director, Altaira.

Participants of the Mental Fitness Training have already been able to implement some of the learnt strategies into their professional and personal lives.

“Now that I have completed the program, I’m now identifying when something is holding me back, and I feel empowered to confidently voice my opinions, share my knowledge and back myself, especially in a group setting. I can see how others within the health sector can benefit from this program; it builds resilience, helps people problem solve and work through challenges together, improves communication and generally, boosts mood, confidence, and job satisfaction,” highlights Linsie Davies, Occupational Therapist from Melbourne.

As well as the program making an impact on the participants personally, the flow on effects of strengthening a healthcare professional’s mental fitness is that it can improve the quality of patient care they deliver, which supports the wider community. “I recently used one of the acquired mental fitness training strategies while on nightshift. I was looking after a very sick patient on ECMO (heart and lung machine), and he was deteriorating around 3am,” shares Melbourne ICU Nurse Abbey Plummer.

“In the room of Doctors and Nurses I was the only nurse who was ECMO credentialled and the most experienced with it. There was lots of critical thinking about what our options were to help this patient and my default would have been to take charge and not listen to the others in the room. The positive intelligence work has helped me identify ‘controlling behaviour’ as my strongest saboteur. Alternatively, I was able to take a breath, use the skills I had learnt, and facilitate a thought-provoking discussion about the options/differential diagnosis. This enabled us to cover all the possible scenarios involved and deliver excellent patient care."

Healthcare Heartbeat brings together a range of essential services tailored for our healthcare workers, particularly nurses, under one united banner. Through Healthcare Heartbeat, healthcare professionals can access Mental Fitness Training program, facilitated by Finnbell Consulting, as well as a range of other benefits including access to crisis lines, career development, mentoring, retreats, overseas nursing placements, and meal delivery services.

Healthcare Heartbeat are very appreciative of Katheryn’s support and commitment to deliver a program that could make a solid and positive impact to a workforce currently at breaking point. We are very excited to be moving forward on this project with Finnbell Consulting. Together, we can empower healthcare workers so they are better equipped to deal with daily challenges, and can flourish in their chosen professions,” acknowledges Terry Hoey, General Manager, Healthcare Heartbeat.

If you are a healthcare professional, you can apply to become a sponsored Healthcare Hero and receive tokens to spend on services, such as Mental Fitness Training, via the Healthcare Heartbeat website. Learn more and register your interest.

Can you help equip our healthcare professionals with the right tools to manage stress and other negative emotions that have been heightened as a result of the pandemic? Sponsor a healthcare worker today so they can access vital support such as Mental Fitness Training.


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