Disability in the Workplace: Inclusivity and Equality

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Performance and productivity are the bywords of companies that pride themselves on excellence. In such environments, a hard worker is considered an able worker. But can this notion of ability accommodate disability as well? Despite the differences in station, there is nothing that prevents employees with disabilities from achieving the same as their non-disabled counterparts.

In light of the United Nations’ 2018 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we look at ways to empower people with disabilities to ensure inclusivity and equality in the workplace.

Disability Stigma

The stigma around hiring people with disabilities is an unfortunate precedent built on an absence of empathy and a number of false premises:

  • Workers with disabilities won’t perform as well.
  • Workers with disabilities have more absences.
  • Hiring a disabled worker is costly and therefore prohibitive.
  • Having a disabled employee in the workplace invites dispute.
  • Workers with disabilities tend to use their condition as a cover/leverage.

The fact is, there is nothing factual to substantiate these claims. On the contrary, a three-year study by DuPaul University showed that employees with disabilities averaged a similar productivity rating as their non-disabled peers. The same study also found that these workers actually displayed fewer absences than those without disabilities.

Adapting the Workplace

When it comes to the cost of accommodating workers with disabilities, employers can expect to spend more. However, this expense need not be significant. Most countries offer tax incentives to help lessen the financial burden of implementing special arrangements such as assistive technology.

Socially speaking, the presence of workers with disabilities is no different than what you’d expect with non-disabled individuals. Disagreements can, and should, be settled amicably. That being said, there is nothing unethical about disciplining or terminating the employment of a worker who consistently fails to meet the expected standard of performance, even if they are disabled. Fair treatment deserves fair work.

Disability Programmes

Workplace disability management is often confined to a case-by-case basis, but having a wider programme in place can have significant benefits for both employers and employees. Preventative wellness programmes are proven to be highly successful, so it stands to reason that a similar programme for workers with disabilities will perform just as well.

An effective workplace disability programme can:

  • Increase the number of employees who successfully return to the workforce post-injury/illness.
  • Reduce the cost of disability for both parties.
  • Create a safer and more assured environment of employment (ie benefits and income level).
  • Minimise the negative impact disability has on the worker’s family and colleagues/superiors.
  • Foster mutual trust between all stakeholders through co-operation.

Such a programme is preemptive in nature and should take the needs of the greater disability community into account. Examples include chronic conditions, mental health disorders, long-term pain, musculoskeletal conditions and vision/hearing loss. To put the necessity of having a comprehensive plan into context, consider that a 2016 report by the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention found that one in every four adults in the US suffers from a disability that negatively affects life activities.

Specialist Consultants

Engaging a qualified consultant will allow you to develop a suitable workplace disability programme for your company. The consultant may recommend a number of  adjustments, such as:

  • Modifications to premises (eg wheelchair ramps).
  • Changing a disabled worker’s hours.
  • Providing specialised training or mentoring.
  • Obtaining or modifying equipment.
  • Modifying procedures for employee testing/assessment.
  • Making allowances in employee attendance for rehabilitation, treatment and assessment.

Equal Rights

A person’s life changes dramatically with a disability, but that shouldn’t consign them to the unemployment office. There are people with disabilities who refuse to let it undermine their career prospects as they are just as capable as people without disabilities. The bottom line is that everyone, regardless of their situation in life, deserves to be treated fairly and with respect.

 

Maximise the ROI on your 2019 wellness initiatives with this exclusive offer from WellteQ. 

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How to Manage Diabetes in the Workplace

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In recognition of World Diabetes Day, we take a closer look at managing diabetes in the workplace.

A recent study on global trends in diabetes complications revealed large increases in diabetes prevalence in almost all regions of the world. In the United States alone, prevalence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is projected to increase by 54% between 2015 and 2030, along with annual diabetes-related deaths climbing by 38%. While managing diabetes has always been a top concern of world health officials, it really boils down to the efforts of the individual. Considering how modern living sees us spending most of our time in a work environment, how can we manage the risks and effects of diabetes in the workplace?

Fortune Favours the Proactive

There are many health complications associated with diabetes: heart disease and stroke, eye damage, skin and mouth conditions, kidney damage and foot problems to name a few. When it comes to functioning at work, one of the main concerns of diabetics is the onset of hypoglycemia, a condition characterised by one’s blood sugar falling below a certain level. This can cause a person to feel faint, weak, or even lose consciousness altogether. The danger inherent in this is painfully obvious.

Thankfully, there are various preventive measures employees can take to keep themselves safe and their families free from worry:

Plan in advance

Getting enough sleep, planning your meals, and staying hydrated are can make a significant difference to your safety. They also happen to be things that can be scheduled and defined on your end. Keeping these areas of your life secure will allow your to have more control over your condition.

Know your rights

Diabetics are protected under national health policies to ensure that their ability to work safely is not compromised, nor their condition discriminated against. Labour laws do vary across countries, so do your due diligence in finding out what’s what. If it is within your rights to make a request for a small change in work arrangements, don’t hesitate to speak up about it!

Protect against danger

Office parties are fun, but they often involve sweet treats and alcohol – not exactly good for diabetics. If you do decide to indulge, be sure to keep your portions on the small side. Keeping your desk stocked with healthy, blood-sugar friendly snacks will ward off the temptation of raiding the office pantry. As another precautionary measure, remember to keep a small supply of your medication handy in case of emergencies.

Make movement a priority

Spending all day seated at your desk is not good for your resting blood sugar levels, so set a timer to go off every 15-30 minutes as a reminder for you to move. Take a short walk down the hall or even do a couple of stretches in your area. During your lunch break, try to take the stairs whenever possible to get your heart rate up. A standing or treadmill desk is another great alternative to consider.

Keep your workplace informed

It’s important that your employer is aware of your diagnosis so they have the opportunity to be understanding of your medical situation. Take the time to explain to them what diabetes is and how it affects everyday life – most people don’t even know what having diabetes entails other than having to worry about blood sugar levels. Letting your work buddies or direct supervisor in on your condition and medical protocols also makes it easier for them to keep an eye out for you.

Avoid taking jobs that are unsuitable for your condition, such as shift work or high-stress positions. Telecommuting or self-employment may be more suitable for individuals who exhibit more severe symptoms.

Keep Your Loved Ones in the Loop

Outside of work, family also plays an important role in diabetes management. A family unit that offers a strong support system can help with sustainability when it comes to certain aspects of diabetes management, such as nutrition, exercise and mental health.

Sharing a life with a diabetic will take some getting used to, so getting your loved ones on board needs to be a gradual process. Building this upon a foundation of open and honest communication is the best way to create a healthy relationship whereby both parties will be able to benefit mutually. To start:

Educate on the condition

Your family may need help understanding what diabetes entails, like the need for a different eating schedule or nutrition plan. Dropping some quick facts about diabetes and the relevant medications enables them to identify red flags and react accordingly.

Define boundaries for support

While help is always welcome, there are times when family members can become TOO involved in the management process. Acknowledge that their intentions stem from a good place, but be firm in drawing the line to prevent micro-management.

Ask for help when needed

It is understandable how those with a serious medical condition tend to view themselves as a burden to others. Remember, you are not alone and your family will do whatever they can to help you find your own pace. For this to work, however, you need to put aside your pride and ask for help when you need it.

Final Thoughts on Diabetes in the Workplace

It’s important to remember that despite the seriousness of the condition, diabetics can still go on to lead relatively normal lives through the adoption of healthier lifestyle habits. Staying safe in the workplace is a matter of identifying the risk factors and addressing them in advance. Being prepared not only safeguards your productivity, but your happiness as well!

To find out more about how our wellness programs can help your organisation establish preventative health measures, get in touch.

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Men’s Health at Work: Are You Man Enough to Talk About It?

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Men's Health, men health, mens health

It’s time to talk about men’s health in the workplace

With reports of chronic stress and similar conditions at an all-time high, the emphasis on promoting healthy practices in the workplace is now as important as ever. However, men’s health, in particular, is a tricky subject to tackle as, traditionally, men struggle to open up about health issues for fear of appearing weak or emasculated. While there have been some progress on this, thanks largely to awareness campaigns such as Movember, unfortunately these archaic notions still hold sway in today’s society.

“Male Wellness” is Not an Oxymoron

Prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide are just some of the health issues affecting men. The sad truth is that men are less likely to make use of their primary health provisions as compared to women. This means that even if the right measures and protocols are in place, men might not stand to benefit from them because of the simple fact of non-engagement.

Regardless of profession, men in general are more prone to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, stroke and depression. They are also much more likely to respond to such situations by resorting to harmful coping mechanisms such as smoking, alcohol and substance abuse, while eschewing more productive avenues such as therapy, counselling or social support groups.

Psychological Made Physical

Hugh Martin, a psychotherapist, coach and founder of men’s health organisation Man Enough, says that such isolative behaviours are very specific to the male psyche and that the typical male upbringing ‘really enables that sense of isolation, or that a man can’t bring up an issue they’re having’.

Martin goes on to add that, in the workplace, men also tend to overextend themselves when it comes to working hours: ‘They tend to feel more isolated from home life, not as efficient at multitasking… It’s hard to sustain’.

Indeed, the following facts around men’s health are a serious cause for concern:

  • Men enjoy less life satisfaction.

  • They have less access to social support systems.

  • Men are more likely to be obese.

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 35.

  • More then three-quarters of suicide victims are male.

  • Boys are falling behind girls at all levels of education.

“Awareness” may be a nice word to throw around wellness circles, but there’s a difference between knowing and acting. Most employers have their hearts in the place when they engage wellness consultants or invest in corporate well-being programmes. However, these efforts will count for nothing if they fail to address the crux of the matter.

It’s Time to Talk About It

The problem is social by nature. Men benefit greatly from the feeling of inclusivity that comes with a support network. When surrounded by their peers – all of whom face similar issues – men are more likely to voice their concerns and work towards solutions as they no longer suffer under the illusion of external judgement. Once this network is in place, change can truly take place.

Of course, the way such an initiative is executed also matters. Communication is key when it comes to building and maintaining relationships, and the same holds true in the workplace. You can’t expect something as impersonal as a bunch of generic motivation posters to do the trick. Kritika Singh, of corporate health provider SMG Health, emphasises the importance of a tailored approach to addressing the wants and needs of male employees: ‘It’s all about how the message is promoted to the staff. It has to be clear and show why the individual should take care of themselves’.

Last Thoughts on Men’s Health

While it may be unrealistic to create “male-friendly” workplace environments, the situation faced by men across the world is very real. We all wish to be in good health – even the most “alpha male” of men amongst us. Just because it’s not spoken about enough, it doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist. So, men, don’t be afraid to open up to friends, family and colleagues about health issues.

To help install healthier habits in the workplace, get in touch with the WellteQ team today.

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WellteQ Talks: Fatigue

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There’s often a misconception that tiredness and fatigue are the same thing. In the health and fitness space, how do you differentiate between the two? Tune into this episode of WellteQ Talks, with Natalie Dau, to find out.

WellteQ is running an exclusive offer to help you maximise the ROI on your wellness initiatives in 2019. Click below to find out more.

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5 Tips to Make You Healthier, Happier and More Productive at Work!

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Improve your work life

Healthier, Happier and More Productive at Work!

It happens to the best of us, but sometimes we just can’t bear our job! There are a few simple tricks you can do to combat the drain work has on our mental and physical health. So here are five ways you can feel healthier, happier and more productive at work.

1. Move it or Lose it! 

They say that sitting is the new smoking. Yes it’s a crude comparison, and sitting down next to someone is not nearly as antisocial as blowing smoke in their face, but the science backs it up. A recent study from the American Cancer Society finds a link between long periods of leisure time sitting and a higher risk of death from all causes.

Terrifying!

Scaremongering aside, sitting can also have adverse effects on your productivity. While you might believe that you’re ‘in the zone’ and that every minute of the day counts, taking regular short breaks between tasks will actually help you stay focussed. Splitting your day’s tasks into bitesize chunks, rewarding yourself with a short break in between, can help you manage your workload more effectively.

So stand up, get the blood pumping and cruise through your day’s tasklist.

2. It’s Rude Not to Stair

It’s one thing taking regular breaks to move around, but are you ready to take on the stairs? Researchers from McMaster University recently found that climbing stairs for 10 minutes a day can have major benefits for heart health, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You burn more calories stair climbing so it’s also a great way to lose weight.

Taking the stairs can also helps boost energy levels. Researchers from University of Georgia found that 10 minutes going up and down stairs gives you more energy than 50mg of coffee. Cheaper and healthier too!

Try swapping the work elevator for the stairs. If your office is on the 50th floor, you could always take the lift part way up and walk the rest of the way. Even better, using a wellness program, set up a ‘Stair Master’ challeng and compete with your colleagues to take your fitness to the next level.

3. Do Sleep on the Job

If you ever find yourself nodding off at work, maybe you shouldn’t fight the urge for a sneaky nap. Ok so spending all afternoon with your head on your desk drooling onto your keyboard is a quick way to get fired, but research shows that a 10-20 minute power nap can do wonders for you. The many benefits include increasing alertness, boosting creativity and reducing stress.    

Taking naps at work is being recognised worldwide with some offices actually installing sleeping pods for just that purpose. In Japan they even have a word for sleeping at work: “inemuri,” which translates roughly as “sleeping while present.” So find yourself a comfy spot in the office, grab a pillow and catch a few zzzs!

However, you should not be napping because you don’t get enough sleep generally. You should still be aiming to get at least 7 hours’ sleep a night. Using wearables is a great way to track both the quantity and quality of your sleep.

4. Don’t Be a Slouch

When you’re spending several hours a day at a computer it can be difficult to maintain good posture. Having bad posture can cause both short and long-term injuries. Try using these ergonomic tips to help your body assume a neutral, strain-free position:

  • Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor and your back fully supported by your seat.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed, allowing your upper arms to hang naturally. Your elbows should be close to the body and bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
  • Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, and your knees close to the same height as your hips.
  • Keep your monitor about an arm’s length away; the top of the screen should be at eye level, so that you can read without craning your neck.

4. Find Your Work BFF

Making friends at work is proven to be beneficial to our wellbeing. A 2014 study by LinkedIn found 46% of professionals worldwide believe work friends are important to their overall happiness. More recently, a survey by Comparably found 60% of women and 56% of men admitted to having a work BFF.

You probably spend more time per week with your co-workers than you do with your other friends, so it’s important to be sociable. Indeed, having work friends can have a dramatic effect on workplace happiness in a number of ways, including: not feeling alienated, being able to bond over shared feelings about the company and reducing stress by having someone to talk to if things go wrong.

Wellness programs are also great to foster friendships at works as they allow you to enter into a community-driven environment where you can compete with, or against, other colleagues.

To find out how WellteQ can help with all of the above, and more, get in touch with the team.

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WellteQ Talks: Cognitive Performance

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“Things like memory, processing speed, impulse control and emotion regulation are the functional output of our brain that help us get along with our activities of daily living”.

Really excited to have Mylea Charvat, Ph.D. from Savonix chatting about cognitive performance on this episode of WellteQ Talks.

WellteQ is running an exclusive offer to help you maximise the ROI on your wellness initiatives in 2019. Click below to find out more.

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WellteQ Talks: Psychologist vs Psychiatrist

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We’re thrilled to have our first remote guest on WellteQ Talks – Dr. Joti Samra, R. Psych., from Canada, founder of MyWorkplaceHealth. In this episode, Dr Joti discusses what a psychologist is and how it differs from a psychiatrist.

WellteQ is running an exclusive offer to help you maximise the ROI on your wellness initiatives in 2019. Click below to find out more.

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Millennials, Let’s Talk About Mental Health in the Workplace

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Mental wellness, Millennials

Millennials and mental health in the workplace

The world united this week for World Mental Health Day to recognise mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. The event takes place every year on 10 October and is supported by the United Nations.

The theme for this year was “Young people and mental health in a changing world”, so in this article we turn our attention to the rise of mental health issues in the workplace among millennials.

Millennials at Work

The way we work has changed dramatically over recent years, and, with millennials set to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025 (Deloitte Millennial Survey), will evolve even further. However, with this changing landscape comes an increase in mental health issues. Millennials are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide than generations past.

Earlier this year, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) in the UK conducted a survey of more than 4,500 people regarding stress in the workplace. It found that millennials felt more under pressure at work than older generations, with 28% reporting stress-related illness.

Cause and Effect

There are several potential reasons why millennials seem to be particularly prone to mental health issues, including:

Perfectionism

A recent study from the Psychological Bulletin found that millennials have “multidimensional perfectionism” meaning they feel pressure to measure up to an ever-growing number of criteria. By striving to reach impossible standards they increase the risk of mental health issues. In the workplace, this can be exemplified by a feeling that they are not being given the recognition, and promotions, that they feel they deserve.

Screen Time

Research suggest that millennials check their phones up to 150 times a day! This excessive use of their phones, means they allow themselves less time to “switch off”, which can be detrimental to their health. This reliance on their phones becomes a form of addiction—they feel they need to constantly check what is happening in the digital world for fear of missing out.

Financial Wellness

Millennials have lower employment rates due to increasing competition for entry-level positions. Many new graduates also carry the burden of large student loan debts. Millennials are also less likely to own a home than previous generations at the same age.

Advice to Millennials

So, without wanting to come across too preachy, here is some advice for millennials:

Be comfortable in your own skin

Social media has created an unhealthy culture of perfectionism where people can now airbrush their lives to create flawless photos. But it’s not real. By idealising other people’s lives on social media you are setting yourself unrealistic goals and inevitably setting yourself up  for a fall.

The same is true in the workplace. No-one expects you to be 100% perfect, 100% of the time. Making, and admitting, mistakes is a necessary part of learning and will make you stronger.

You don’t have to compare yourself to other people–accepting who you are is a positive step towards happiness.

Learn the art of patience

It is often said that millennials live in a world of instant gratification—everything they need is “on demand”. This can have a negative impact on their professional lives as they may feel they are entitled to a promotion, pay rise or business trip, but are disappointed when it doesn’t materialise.

You don’t need to get everything you want right now. Working hard to achieve your goals will give you a greater sense of fulfilment in the long term.

Cut down on your screen time

Constantly checking your phone at work can lead to loss of productivity and work-related stress. If we take smartphone usage as a form of addiction, then, like other addictions, it can be overcome with the right approach. While a full digital detox simply isn’t practical for most people, there are several things you can do to help you be present in the moment.

  • Limit yourself. Set strict boundaries on your smartphone usage at work so that you only use it on your break time.
  • Turn your unimportant notifications off. Your world will not stop if you don’t check the notifications within 10 seconds of receiving it.
  • Look up more. Do you really need to walk and text or can you enjoy your surroundings with your phone in your pocket?

For more ideas on cutting down your screen time, check out this article.

Have conversations with older generations

It may be a cliché , but millennials can learn a lot from older generations—everything in this article and more.

In a professional capacity, one of the best ways to learn from older generations is by finding a good mentor. Life in the digital age brings improved connectivity that’s conducive to building supportive online communities for tacit knowledge sharing and professional networking. There is a huge array of business productivity apps that can matchmake young professionals with industry mentors looking for career advice, eg apps like Woomentum, Shapr and Unibly.

These tips are not exhaustive, but hopefully will help you on the path to mental wellness in the workplace. To find out more about our mental wellness initiatives, get in touch with the WellteQ team.

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Safety First! 5 Simple Ways to Avoid Injury in the Office

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fatigue, safety, stress, injury, office, wellness

Safety in the Workplace

When we think of workplace safety, we usually associate it with blue-collar work. While the risks of working at an industrial plant, shipyard or building site are obvious, office environments also have their fair share of incidents. You may not be required to wear a hardhat or steel-toe boots, but that’s doesn’t mean you can take your safety for granted.

A Moment is All it Takes

A lapse in attention or a moment of carelessness is often all it takes to trigger an incident that could have easily been avoided. Some of the more common accidents in the office include:

  • Slips/trips/falls
  • Muscle strains
  • Hit by falling objects
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Crashes/collisions
  • Cuts/lacerations

After the Event

While many of these may seem trivial, they can have a negative effect on health and productivity. One solution is to have a dedicated first aider who can they quickly attend to minor injuries, and even save someone’s life in serious cases. In many countries, having a first aid kit in the office is a legal requirement. 

However, before you scramble for the first aid kit, try these five preventative measures to avoid workplace injuries:

1. Prioritise Rest

The effects of stress in the workplace are far-reaching and can prove problematic if left unchecked for too long. More often than not, such cases can be traced back to poor sleeping habits. Constant late hours and excessive device usage puts our minds and body in a hyper-excited state and deprives us of restorative rest.

This leads to fatigue, which is one of the most common reasons for workplace injuries. Be it from lack of sleep or excessive workloads, fatigue plays a significant role in determining situational and personal awareness. Shoot for a minimum of seven hours of uninterrupted rest and avoid accumulating a hefty sleep debt.

2. Use Aids if Necessary

If injured, you need to protect the afflicted area. Things like wrist and ankle sprains are pretty minor, but they can lead to dropped objects or falls. Wearing braces or using movement aids is not a sign of weakness; these devices promote recovery while also preventing any exacerbation of existing injuries.

3. Abstain from Drugs and Alcohol

Going out on a bender the night before can easily affect the way you work the next day, even if you’re used to heavy drinking. An altered perception of your physical surroundings can lead to accidents and serious injuries. Certain prescription drugs carry similar side effects. While recovering, and on medication that causes drowsiness, stay at home until you’ve completely recovered.

4. Highlight Safety Hazards

Tangled wires, exposed electrical outlets/wiring and loose fans/floorboards/ceiling panels are things that need to be immediately highlighted to HR upon identification. Aside from the obvious threat to occupational health and safety, these hazards could be indicative of a deeper systemic issue in the building/office.

5. Stay Home if Sick

Illnesses like flu tend to make us feel more tired than usual due to the stress our bodies are under while fighting infection. When you feel like deadweight, your ability to react to your surroundings is thoroughly compromised and it’s better to stay at home to avoid infecting anyone else. 

Final Thoughts on Workplace Safety

It’s one thing to clock in all sleepy-eyed after missing your morning coffee fix, but it’s another to be exhausted to the extent where you can’t even pay adequate attention to your surroundings. Accidents in the office are more common than you think, and a small error can easily snowball into something much worse causing injury to yourself or others. So take the precautions above, remain vigilant and stay safe at work! 

This October is National Safe Work Month in Australia. To find out more about this excellent initiative, visit the Safe Work Australia website.

To discuss how to combat fatigue within your workforce contact the WellteQ team.

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WellteQ Talks: Mindfulness and Mental Health

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In observance of World Mental Health Day, WellteQ CEO, Scott Montgomery, caught up with Anji Hallewell from Hidden Lava to talk about how mindfulness can make a positive impact on certain areas of mental health.

WellteQ is running an exclusive offer to help you maximise the ROI on your wellness initiatives in 2019. Click below to find out more.

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