HEALTH REPORT: Health workers in caring workplace

DO you know your colleagues well? Can you talk about personal matters?

A dedicated team at Westmead Hospital decided to ask these types of questions – and took action.

Outpatient pharmacy staff tackled mental health at work by forming a ‘Women Empowerment’ group in late 2019. The main purpose was to support personal and professional growth.

One of the founders, investigational drug pharmacist Elizabeth Tran, said her team witnessed a series of positive results ever since.

“All of us have become more committed to work and our fellow team members. It’s such a pleasure to watch everyone blossom,” Elizabeth said.

The group started regular outings and continued having ‘online parties’ after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia.

“Very often employees of such big organizations get busy with work and stop noticing their peers. It’s important to see, acknowledge, and nurture each other’s talents,” Elizabeth said.

“In the office, we regularly ask each other ‘R U OK?’ We make time to laugh and chat about things other than work. We actually think that we’re pretty hilarious.” Elizabeth came up with the idea for the staff support group from a charity she is involved with.

“If you are under pressure or unhappy – speak about it. Never bottle it up.  “We celebrate great ideas and encourage each other to pursue dreams – no matter how big or small.”

Since the creation of this small but powerful union, relationships within the team transformed into strong bonds.

Pharmacy technician and co-founder Diana Esapour-Noori said she is now looking forward to every new day at work. Bringing out the best “We bring out the best in each other. No matter how busy or stressful it gets – I know I will always have support,” Diana said.

“We have given nicknames which we call out to each other, to cheer up our moods and bring a smile to everyone’s faces, including our patients.”

Elizabeth has become a patron of various cultural institutions. She said it would not have happened without the reassurance of her support group.

“I have always been lucky to be surrounded by such beautiful souls. The idea of this support group came from my charity work experience,” Elizabeth said.

“This involved forming a group with the staff of a non-government organization that provided educational assistance to girls living in underprivileged communities in rural Vietnam.

“I wanted them to become role models for young girls. It was a success, so I decided to do the same at work.

“It was the best thing I could do for my team.

“For anyone feeling down, this message is for you: You are talented. You are special. You are loved!”

Western Sydney Local Health District offers wellness support for its employees.  Staff can attend wellness group sessions and meditation, individual sessions and drop-in centres.

To access other resources, staff can click on support for staff and managers can visit support for managers.

Enquiries can also be made by calling 9840 3637 or

emailing WSLHD-OD&L@health.nsw.gov.au . For 24-hour crisis services, please contact:
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800 | Lifeline: 13 11 14 | Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 | Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511

The Parramatta Times would like to hear from other workplaces that have staff
mental health initiatives. Email dibartok@yahoo.com.au

Photo: Westmead Hospital outpatients pharmacy technician Diana Esapour-Noori and pharmacist Elizabeth Tran.

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