For the Allianz pilot program, the alternative therapy activities are selected by participants’ preferred mental health providers with the intention of facilitating a reconnection between the employee and their community. It also helps to introduce added benefits, including the establishment of an enjoyable routine, return to previously loved pursuits, human interaction and the introduction of structure into the week.
According to one participant, “[Without the program] I’d feel more alienated … it made me feel not alone in this journey, not having much community connection. It helped significantly.”
By adding this important complement to existing support networks in the return-to-work journey, Allianz and treating health practitioners are able to help injured individuals in their recovery, facilitating a safer return to work.
According to one treating health practitioner, “It helps people get out of their isolated lives, discover or develop creative elements within, takes their mind off their mental health, and perhaps even mix with other people.”
Participants reported personal development benefits (such as re-building confidence and a sense of accomplishment), introducing structure and routine, improving fitness, and reforming cultural connections.
The program complements formal treatment, it is not a replacement for it. And, despite its infancy, the two-pronged approach taken by Allianz is looking extremely promising. There is still work to do, with an innovative approach of continuous review and improvement being practiced by practitioners and program administrators on a regular basis.
“Allianz is committed to empowering employers with the right knowledge, resources and initiatives to better support employees facing mental health issues,” adds Julie. “We believe that prioritising the wellbeing of employees, particularly the rising number of Australians experiencing mental health conditions, is key to building future, thriving workplaces.”
Watch this space for updates as we look to expand the program and support more injured workers in their recovery over the next 12 months.
NB as a result of Coronavirus the program saw some disruption in 2020/2021 with a number of services paused for a period of time during lockdown.