December 20, 2018

Dr Rachael Coutts wins Inaugural Wellbeing Award

Dr Rachael Coutts, Associate Director of Medical Education and Emergency Physician, has won the Inaugural Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM) Wellbeing Award.

The award celebrates the initiative(s) of groups, individuals, or whole emergency departments that have resulted in enhanced wellbeing for their emergency department colleagues.

Rachael was nominated by Will Halpin, Director, OHS & Wellbeing, for her work in developing a strategic wellbeing framework and an initiative to facilitate conversations on mental wellness.

“Rachael is a passionate advocate for improving the wellbeing of medical professionals, in particular, the protection and promotion of good mental health,” Will says.

Rachael played a pivotal role in the ‘Conversations on Mental Wellness’ initiative coinciding with R U OK Day in September; a week of speaking events, education sessions and wellbeing initiatives for the whole Northern Health workforce.

Our ‘Conversations on Mental Wellness’ week was about normalising the discussions related to the mental health and wellbeing of all staff.

Rachael says these conversations are relevant to all of us – our colleagues, staff, family and friends.

“If you think about mental wellness as being on a spectrum from thriving at one end, to severe mental illness at the other, any one of us could be at any location along the continuum at some time of our life,” she says.

“By opening up these conversations we can provide the opportunity for each of us to examine our own workplace environment, our unit, or department and question the culture and practice and begin to advocate for and create change,” she continues.

Some of the questions raised included:

  • What does a mentally healthy workplace look like for your area?
  • What protective factors exist?
  • Are you able to speak up about mental health and wellbeing without fear of stigma or discrimination?
  • Is there a culture of respect, openness and inclusivity in your department?
  • Do you know where to seek help if you or a colleague need it?

Rachael says the award means that these conversations can be had at a much broader level, with the ability to share ideas, learn from each other and continue to advocate for change.

On a final note, Will says, “We’re lucky to have Rachael continuing to contribute to the implementation of the Northern Health psychological wellbeing strategy, and ultimately, a safer workplace for all of us.”

(Photo courtesy of ACEM)