Build A Mentally Healthy, Resilient Brain
COVID-19 UPDATE: There has never been a more important time to support employee mental health and provide coping techniques and tools. With social isolation and rising levels of uncertainty, change, stress, anxiety, fear and mental health concerns it is our responsibility to ensure employees know how to decompress and remain connected, mentally healthy, calm and resilient through this challenging period.
Our signature eight week program is offered to organisations with zoom or microsoft teams workshop facilitation. Our Wise online program supports the program by unlocking content and neuroscience-based practices one week at a time. These practices are designed to change the brain structurally and cultivate positive health behaviours and habits.
This neuroscience-based brain changing program is designed to calm the mind and generate psychological resilience (an internal process of intentionally changing thoughts and behaviours). Employees learn evidence-based tools and practices for self-care, sleep, emotional regulation, as well as overcoming stress, anxiety, panic, trauma and depression. We are committed to helping employees improve their lives and minds from the inside out.
Through participation in this innovative program participants have the opportunity to learn practices and tools that re-wire and change their brain. These include:
- Building more positive emotion in the brain through gratitude practices and positive awareness practices.
- Changing the brain from the top down (i.e. using thoughts, journalling and positive psychology to change the brain).
- Changing the brain from the bottom up (i.e. working through the body and senses to change the brain and enhance the size of the insula. This ‘felt-sense’ part of the brain is crucial for introception, insight, coping ability, empathy and compassion).
- Developing personal resilience, problem-solving skills and coping with the stresses of everyday life.
- Dealing with challenges and difficulties with more grace and composure.
- Being fully present and happy, with a stable mind.
- Regulate and modulate our emotional empathy towards other people’s distress.
- Prevent burnout, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue.
When we are on ‘auto-pilot’ our attention is absorbed in our wandering mind and we are not ‘present’ in our own lives. The fundamental change that mindfulness training brings is one of ‘falling awake’ rather than being lulled by habitual complacency. Mindfulness can be used as a tool to allow the mind to grow quieter and more spacious. This can bring into awareness workings of the mind that are ordinarily unconscious. Participants can then gain wisdom and insight into their behaviours, emotions, triggers and values.
Backed By Science
Mindfulness literally changes your brain. Compelling research has shown mindfulness-based programs lead to structural brain changes in the top four areas associated with mental health; the pre-frontal cortex, amygdala, insular and the cingulate cortex. As well as this, we see significant positive changes in the size and function of the hippocampus (areas of learning and memory and in regions associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection).
The original eight week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course was first developed by Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It has been widely researched over the past 30 years and is at the cutting edge of integrative and preventative medicine. Research documented in now over 8000 medical journals has shown that an eight week mindfulness-based program can alleviate a wide range of physical and psychological difficulties such as stress, anxiety, panic, insomnia, high blood pressure, depression, migraines, heart conditions and diabetes.
The Wise Choice
Our recent pilot study with a large government organisation found our eight week Wise program was an acceptable, feasible and useful tool for reducing stress and improving resilience, health and psychological outcomes. It can be concluded that an eight week psychological resilience program produces noticeable improvements in five psychological well-being markers (depression, anxiety, stress, self-regulation and self-esteem) as well as improvements in mindfulness behaviour, ability to self-regulate and post-program blood pressures. Many participants self-reported improvements in the areas of sleep, coping ability, life satisfaction, leadership, relationships and the ability to listen and communicate more effectively.
Inspired by the popular MBSR and MBCT course, we are delighted to offer this truly unique program which is specifically tailored for the workplace. The course content has been carefully constructed to offer you a holistic stress resilience program with all the inclusions of the MBSR, but without bias towards any religion or beliefs.
Benefits of Training for Participants
Participants who undertake our programs benefit from:
- Improved self- awareness, self-management and self-regulation.
- Improved cognitive function- including greater focus, concentration, memory, learning ability and creativity.
- Less habitual reactivity and heightened emotional intelligence.
- Lower stress.
- Heightened psychological resilience, ability to recover quickly from stress and life’s difficulties.
- Increased ability to manage emotions and adapt to change.
- Presence in every aspect of their life.
- Reduced compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma.
- Enhanced ability to regulate one’s emotional response to other people’s distress.
- Enhanced sense of well-being and life satisfaction.
- Improved leadership skills and communication.
- Improved relationships (at home and at work).
- Ability to listen more attentively and be present.
- Reduced symptoms of poor mental health and mental illness.
- Enhanced immune system and healing capacity for the body.
Benefits of Training for the Employer
Our training provides businesses with tangible and intangible returns on investment including:
- Improved employee engagement and communication amongst teams.
- Increased productivity.
- Reduced mental health injuries, stress leave or psychological claims.
- Reduced absenteeism, unplanned leave and associated financial costs.
- Reduced symptoms of poor mental and physical health.
- Better capacity to adapt to change.
- Happier, healthier, calmer employees.
- More mindful leaders and an effective top-down approach to mental health prevention.
Our Tailored Programs
Our eight-week or four- week programs are both tailored to suit employees at all levels within your organisation. Our mindful leadership training incorporates mental health awareness and mental health response training. It is available to executives, managers, team leaders and senior employees at all levels.
We offer group-based workshops, individual coaching and a professional online program to support personal resilience. Our eight week program is available online with zoom or Microsoft workshop facilitation. This allows us to support employees remotely and ensure isolated teams can remain connected. It also enables employees from regional or interstate offices to join the workshop at the same time.
Sessions are a blend of educational teachings, practical exercises, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy practices, problem-solving skills, resilience tools and coping techniques, stress reduction practices, guided meditations, gentle mindful movement, relaxation and body awareness practices.
Please ask us about our one-off workshops, full-day or half-day workshops and 4 week ‘build a resilient brain’ program.
To see the clients we have worked with please click HERE
Ciara Millar, Manager Suicide, Mental Health and General Investigations. Coroners Court of Victoria. “At the beginning of the eight week Wise program I was not getting enough deep sleep (approximately 20 min per night according to my FitBit), so despite sleeping for 8 hours I did not feel refreshed each morning. Since practicing a mindfulness meditation each night as suggested by Sally, I am now getting approx. 1.5 hours deep sleep per night! Sally is extremely kind, gentle and engaging. She makes everyone feel welcomed and valued, and does not show any judgement – this made me feel safe in her sessions. Sally has the ability to teach mindfulness tools in a practical way, ensuring learnings are transferrable to real life events. I thoroughly enjoyed the program and highly recommend Sally and Engage Health!”.
Fiona Gervasoni. Victoria Police. “The eight week Wise program has deepened my understanding of the physiological responses associated with stress and anxiety and shown me that it is possible to not only rewire the brain, but also bring about physiological changes to it. The guided practices have allowed me to gain an appreciation of mindfulness and its benefits, enabling me to become more aware of thoughts, emotions and senses and giving me the opportunity to observe their impact, both positive and negative, on me. I am now more conscious of what I am experiencing and know that I have the capacity and tools to influence how I react or respond. My sincere thanks to you for the opportunity to participate in this program and also for the gentle, compassionate and insightful way you delivered it”.
Jonathan van Rooyen. CEO, The Infrastructure Fund. “I work in a leadership capacity on a $1.7 billion Global Infrastructure Investment Fund. I recently completed the eight week Wise program run by Engage Health. The program focused on developing 3 areas critical to effective leadership: 1. Self-Awareness; 2. Authenticity; and 3 Compassion. I can say in all honesty, this program was the most effective Leadership Development Program I have been associated with during my 20-year career. Sally has an extraordinarily effective manner and understands the challenges of dealing with time-poor, highly-distracted financial services executives. I commend the Wise program to others who are seeking to extend and differentiate themselves in a leadership capacity.”
Fortunata Maria Callipari, City of Whittlesea. “Sally has been a great advocate of mindfulness in every way. The eight week Wise program that Sally delivered at the City of Whittlesea blew my mind! i.e. my brain grew neurons and pathways that are on their way to a positive way of thinking, feeling and being. In this eight week course Sally unravels brain chemistry and demystifies the way the brain works to enable us to understand why meditation is one of the best thing we can do for our mental health. I learnt about mindfulness based cognitive therapy and strategies for taming the reactive brain. Looking at the various parts of the brain helped me to understand how the brain works and how it changes when applying meditation on a regular basis. I learnt practical breathing strategies and alerting the senses to mitigate the stress response. I also learnt the importance of compassion, self-care and speaking with kind words. Wise definitely contributed to my personal and professional development as I work towards the best version of myself”.Laima Panders, The Coroners Court of Victoria. “Sally communicates very well by explaining how the mind and body works, using a scientific foundation to back up all teachings. Sally also spends extra time with staff if they require extra information or assistance. The teachings that Sally provided were all based on strong foundations and complimented by all the wonderful information on the engage website that backs up and encourages further growth in this area. Sally has a warm and calming way that is perfect for conducting this program, she is able to connect with all people in the program”.Anonymous, The Coroners Court of Victoria. “Sally is a wonderful facilitator – kind, courteous, encouraging, insightful and supportive. Despite the stress of COVID-19, Sally continued to go above and beyond, making herself available for all of her participants to discuss issues or concerns, continuing the program through zoom sessions, and providing the complete 8 weeks of materials for use again. There was so much scientific basis behind each of the practices and techniques taught, and this was explained in a clear manner. Each step of the program was reinforced and built upon the previous weeks learnings in a logical way. I have found the benefits in my own life after only a short few months of beginning mindfulness practice. I’m excited to begin the 8 weeks again in my own time to consolidate those learnings and continue to benefit from the mindfulness techniques.
Gill Banez, Project Manager. APD Projects Construction.“I was inherently skeptical about the effectiveness of mindfulness programs such as the Wise program. Having tried various approaches in an attempt to improve workplace management and relationships, I observed Sally’s achievements in business and as a successful athlete and was eager to learn the strategies that lead to her success. The eight week program presents strategies in an orderly and relatable way which allow immediate real world implementation right at the outset. I’ve enjoyed a renewed outlook which extends well beyond the workplace and I would recommend its implementation to any business of any kind.”
Mark Deverall. Assistant Principal, Northern Bay P-12 College, Corio. “Working in a public secondary school faces numerous challenges and difficulties. We recently had Sally facilitate mindfulness teacher training at our campus for all staff. This was timely towards the end of year. Overwhelmingly the staff feedback was positive in regard to feeling an immediate improved sense of wellbeing and appreciative for gaining an understanding of mindfulness in a school setting, both from a professional perspective but also an introductory aspect for educating students. Sally was comprehensive in her explanation of the physiological reasoning behind mind and body stress and stress reduction. This was complimented with practical strategies and meditations that left all staff feeling better and enabled a positive organizational morale that carried across the remainder of the year. We would highly recommend this program for schools with it showing a clear ability to improve teacher and support staff wellbeing.Coby Rollins. Learning and Organisational Development. Department of Health and Human Services.“I am now less anxious in certain situations. I am more aware and appreciative of the small and beautiful things in life that often get overlooked. I feel calmer, more focused and more in tune with myself and what is going on around me. For me the most useful part of the course was learning the tools to be able to recognise and be more comfortable with change and the unpleasant in our lives. I would absolutely recommend this course to others (I already have!). The benefits you experience and the changes in your everyday behaviour and awareness is outstanding. Truly life changing.”
Anonymous, The Coroners Court of Victoria. “The Wise program was really well put together, with in person group sessions to explore and discuss techniques and experiences, formal and informal practices to try out and work out which ones were most helpful, and further reading or videos to learn more about the scientific basis for mindfulness”.
Amanda O’Donnell. Disability Support Services, Department of Health and Human Services.“I would certainly recommend the course and have found it to be a positive experience learning to recognise what I am feeling and taking steps to deal with stress. I have felt that I am better able to recognise when I am stressed at the time and take steps towards addressing it at that point in time”.
Sarah Sims. Child Protection Practitioner. Department of Health and Human Services.“Thank you very much! This course has helped a lot with my personal life. It has changed me for the better and I am extremely grateful. Thank you.”
Maree Millard. Disability Housing Advice and Assistance. Department of Health and Human Services.“I have loved this course. The kindness practice has been great. I am now kinder to myself. I exercise every morning and meditate every night. I have found I am sleeping so much better. When I used to try and problem solve at 3am I now mindfully breathe and return to sleep really fast. Thank you”.
Dominique Swift. Child Protection Practitioner. Department of Health and Human Services. “This was an invaluable experience provided by excellent practitioners. I would highly recommend to everyone to adapt as a basic wellbeing measure”.
Jamie Camamile. Disability Support Services. Department of Health and Human Services. This course is fantastic for many different reasons and can be relatable to anyone. This course achieved amazing results for me in my ability to be aware of myself and those around me. There is no-one that wouldn’t benefit from taking the time to complete this course”.
OUR PILOT STUDY RESULTS
Pilot Study # 1: Eight Week Psychological Resilience Program.
The Effectiveness of an 8 Week Mindfulness-Based Psychological Resilience Program in the Workplace.
Objective: The purpose of this pilot study was to assess whether our eight week psychological resilience program would improve resilience, health and psychological outcomes (stress, depression and anxiety) for employees, in particular Child Protection Practitioners, in the West Division at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Methods: The pilot study explored the impact of attention training on all levels of awareness, psychological well-being, depression, anxiety, tension/stress, sleep, resilience and coping ability. In addition, the study attempted to determine the impact of eight weeks of training on blood pressure scores. Data was collected from participants pre and post intervention, as well as one month post program. Management and leadership training was conducted for all child protection managers to improve mental health awareness and response. Effective new tools were created to enhance trust and build relationships between managers and team members. (These tools are now available for other organisations to use).
Results: The pilot showed improvement in all levels of mindfulness, psychological well-being measures and stress, as well as in resting blood pressure scores. The findings suggest that an eight week psychological resilience program reduces mental stress and enhances psychological well-being, sleep and coping ability. Negative correlations between mindfulness behaviour and depression scores were found, illustrating that as awareness increased, psychological distress decreased. Higher correlations post intervention were also found indicating a clear association between low awareness and high depression, anxiety and stress scores (and vice versa). A wide range of physical difficulties such as anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia and migraines were also alleviated.
|· 96% reported feeling calmer and more relaxed.|
|· 81% stated they were less ‘reactive’ and more able to recognise when they were in default mode.
· 58% of participants are still performing regular relaxation, awarness, mindfulness meditation or other stress reduction activities. This has increased from 20%.
· 93% stated they had coped better with difficult or stressful situations
· An overall reduction in DASS scores(Depression, Anxiety, Stress) scores post intervention
· A negative correlation coefficient found between awareness and DASS Scores.
Attention & Awareness
· 94% of participants had increases in their MAAS Score.
· 90% found their concentration and focus had improved
· 83% reported they were better able to listen attentively and communicate effectively
· 66% reported improvements in sleep post intervention
· Normal healthy range increased from 19.7% to 65.8%
· Isolated Hypertension decreased from 21% to 9.8%
· 66% of participants still frequently using the resilience tools and coping mechanisms at work.
· 84% still participating in frequent informal or formal awareness practices.
Conclusion: The Pilot Study has shown to be acceptable with potential merit as a proactive workplace mental health intervention. The data collected has shown the Wise program effectively improves psychological resilience, health and psychological outcomes (perceived stress, and depression and anxiety scores) for employees at the Department of Health and Human Services.
A Summary of our Mental Health & Resilience Training
- Mindful leadership training (Mental Health Awareness & Mindful Manager Response Training)
- Eight week Mindfulness-Based Psychological Resilience Program
- Four week ‘Build A Resilient Brain’ program. (Click here)
- ‘Self-Care & Resilience’ Workshops (Please contact us for a course outline).
- ‘Overcoming Stress & Anxiety’ Program.
A Summary of our Mindfulness Programs for Schools
- Eight week ‘Mindfulness Training for Teachers’ (click here)
- Professional Development Workshop for Teachers (click here)
- ‘Overcoming Stress & Anxiety’ Course (Year 9-12 and University Students)
- Empowering Women Workshops. Mindfulness training for young women.
- Life skills sessions. ‘Mindfulness for Life’ workshops (Year 7-12)
- Career days- Workshops for Students (all ages)