'Push' for better mental health in the tech sector

Wednesday, 01 June, 2022

'Push' for better mental health in the tech sector

Cisco and Lifeline have joined forces to ‘push’ for better mental health in the workplace — specifically in the tech sector. For the second year running, Cisco will take part in The Push Up Challenge.

About one in five Australians experience a mental health condition each year. The importance of workplace mental health has grown in the post-pandemic environment, particularly in the tech sector, which is seeing higher rates of depression among workers.

As modes of working shifted throughout the pandemic, the industry was confronted with the challenges of remotely supporting staff with their mental health.

Following the success of last year’s challenge, Cisco is now calling on the broader IT industry to join them and provide tech workers with an antidote to feelings of isolation, while enabling them to prioritise their physical and mental health.

Challenge participants will take on 3139 push-ups across 24 days in June, shining a spotlight on the tragically high number of lives lost to suicide in Australia throughout 2020.

Karen Schuman, Head of Small Businesses at Cisco, said The Push Up Challenge creates a safe and relaxed space to talk about mental health at work. By completing the challenge as a team, Schuman and her colleagues are able to provide personal support to each other and foster better understanding of mental health.

“When working in a high-pressure industry, it is crucial to have conversations about mental health and suicide, and we need to see more workplaces making it a priority,” said Schuman.

“May 2021, when I was first introduced to The Push Up Challenge, marked the 25th anniversary of my father’s death by suicide. The challenge resonated with me instantly, both professionally, as a Cisco leader, and personally. For years after my father’s death, I couldn’t say the word ‘suicide’ without shame or hurt, so I knew it was the time to be vulnerable and have open conversations within the team.”

Schuman believes that rallying a workplace to complete the challenge can have a positive impact on teams’ mental and physical health. It also provides much-needed financial support to Lifeline Australia, which is working to make sure no one is facing their darkest moments alone.

Colin Seery, CEO of Lifeline Australia, said the universal nature of the challenge is appealing.

“Just like Lifeline’s services, The Push Up Challenge is for everybody. The terrific thing about the challenge is how it connects people through exercise, while empowering them with ways they can make a positive difference in other people’s lives,” Seery said.

“More people than ever before are reaching out to Lifeline for help, and the money raised will support our services to be there for anyone, anytime, whatever the reason. We are delighted to have the Cisco team fundraising to back our crisis support services.

“When organisations take the lead like this, it helps encourage Australians to talk about their mental health, learn how to best support each other and recognise when they might need to put their own hand up for help.”

In 2021, over 174,000 participants completed 240 million push-ups and raised $9 million for mental health programs and services. Participants of all ages and abilities push-up while learning about mental health, with the number of daily push-ups changing to reflect a vital mental health fact.

Alternatively, participants can set their own push-up goal, which can also be done as sit-ups, squats or tailored exercises, with progress tracked through a dedicated app. Interested individuals, teams, workplaces, schools and other organisations can find out more and register at www.thepushupchallenge.com.au/lifeline.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Studio Romantic

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