Men’s Physical and Mental Health, Wellbeing and Resilience Journey to Backsafe and Mindsafe

ANC manual handling training

After 28 years training in the WHS arena, I have clearly seen that men make up the majority of our Backsafe and Mindsafe attendees. You may say, obviously, but after training hundreds of thousands of office, rail, transport, warehouse, building and civil construction workers, health care and child care workers, I think I have the experience to know the mental and physical makeup of the modern worker and the challenges they face.

Yet when you research the internet for service providers, information and training, or look through bookshelves of our bookshops and libraries, there is a definite lack of “real” information that addresses these challenges in straight forward, non-biased and no “BS” way.  In fact, what’s really needed is a huge amount of reliable, easy to understand and practical information that focusses on men’s health issues, particularly regarding the number one physical issue – back injury prevention and the number one mental health issue – mental health and resilience.

My goal is to proactively create a healthy, happy and secure society and to contribute to the well-being of all humans, with a keen interest in the particular needs of MEN.

I am a father, son and grandson. My old pop, Alf was originally a Yorkshire man, a hard-working plasterer and my father Charlie followed in his footsteps in the family business, plastering the walls of wheat silos throughout the wheat and sheep zone of central NSW.  My father went to war in 1939 at 17 years of age to “see the world” and get out of Temora.  Luckily, he came back to father me and my builder brother Mark.

After 5 years in the deserts of the Middle East and in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, Charlie arrived home and undertook some further training in a veteran’s improvement program run by the Federal Government to become a carpenter/builder.  He carried with him a good dose of PTSD, having been shot at many times during those young and impressionable years in the hell of an imperial war.  Like many of his fellow soldiers, he was addicted to booze and army issued non-filtered cigarettes. Both Charlie and Alf had bad backs to prove that they were in the building industry and both self-medicated with the amber ale to dull the pain. My brother and I also developed bad backs over years of working in the building industry not knowing whence it came.

Let’s face it a man is a complex and composite being.  He is made up of many intricate parts. In times gone by, men were the main bread winners in the family but today their partners, sisters and our daughters, coupled or not, now have to contribute to the earning of a living like never before. Why? Well that’s the subject for another day. But if we just consider men for the sake of this article, we can see that their responsibilities and their gung-ho mental attitude to get the job done for their family at all costs, is literally costing them their physical health and mental well-being.

Back injuries are endemic in our work-a-day world with 8 out of 10 working men suffering a major debilitating back, neck or shoulder injury at some time in their early working life. Musculo-skeletal disorders to backs, necks, shoulders and/ or other joints of the body are everywhere, and I know from personal experience that the recorded statistics don’t show the true or full picture. Most hard-working men suffer in silence, grit their teeth and get on with it.  But their stoic attitude is ultimately expensive to their enduring lifestyle.

After I developed a bad back, and recalling my childhood experiences with a father suffering from PTSD and associated mental health issues as well as debilitating back issues, I decided to redirect my working efforts towards solving two major health and wellbeing issues.

Backsafe in Australia and the Pacific region was born in 1992 with a bit of guts and determination and a lot of help from a band of mighty men and women.  Today we are one of the most highly regarded pro-active musculoskeletal prevention training program in the marketplace.  We train using an edutainment approach to engagement and we avoid the death by Powerpoint approach at all times.

Next, we developed the Mindsafe.  An equally engaging education and training program to make us all safe from our own minds. We wanted to create a training program that taught executives, staff, family members and friends how to “live in the right way”.  We show how to not get caught up in the “inner world” of the mind – that labyrinth of the mind and the resultant psychic trauma that impinges on us all daily – so that people understand how getting caught up in these mind machinations leads them away from living a good life with themself, family members and others.

We also wanted to solve the mental health problem of the current generations that has led to the over-use of alcohol and drugs and to their daily sufferings to a greater or lesser degree. My dad’s PTSD was but one symptom to be addressed. After training so many people I saw firsthand the real travails of man and how over all we were in deep trouble.  I observed the rising impacts of absenteeism and presenteeism within my client organisations and when I looked in the faces of my trainees, it didn’t take a brain surgeon to work that as a species we were on the wrong path and that this path would slowly lead us to our mental and physical demise.

So, after 8 years of intensive research with my colleague Bede exploring Eastern and Western philosophy and psychology classics written by very special and gifted, men and women, and then thousands of hours of work and testing, the Mindsafe program was born.  The goal of this training and education program is to give people the capacity to take their lives back into their own hands, to be their own life coach and to walk a well-defined pathway to a better existence.

Of course, I could talk all day, and I literally do, about Backsafe and Mindsafe but in this article I’ll give you a brief summary.  If you want any further information, please feel free to contact me directly either via E: or M: 0414 460 859.

Our Backsafe 1 Manual Handling Training Program can be delivered to all workers and their supervisors. This program includes employee participation in warm-up exercises, stretches and lifting techniques designed around their actual working environment or department specific job tasks.  This program is delivered by a trained Backsafe Facilitator and can be attended by up to 20 workers at a time and taking 110 – 120 minutes to complete.

The training session commences with a discussion of why the employee needs to become involved in Backsafe training and includes a few true case histories of the consequences of serious back, neck and shoulder injuries.  It also covers:

  • An easy to understand explanation of the anatomy of the body and how manual handling related damage builds up over time when performing manual handling activities in a harmful way.
  • A demonstration of the Backsafe Leverage principle, explaining how the body works most efficiently and how to reduce the chance of injury in the workplace.
  • A warm-up and practise of the Backsafe “Before Work & After Break Stretches” or such other appropriate stretches as needed.
  • The group is run through job specific lifting techniques and working postures. At this point, employees will be able to demonstrate that they have understood and can apply the new skills that they have just learnt.  This really begins the creation of a “new moving habit”.  We then discuss the need for safe work methods to maximise understanding by all attendees.
  • A further discussion is had around the concepts of the Backsafe Safety Zone and the Backsafe $ Don’ts. We concentrate on breaking the extant bad habits.
  • A clear distinction is made between manual handling and hazardous manual handling.

The Mindsafe Program is all about empowering individuals to live a successful and intelligent life in a world that seems to have gone mad. In the Mindsafe Program individuals learn how to become stronger and wholeheartedly motivated by developing their 5 innate Powers and as a consequence mental health concerns tend to fade into the background. When people use the tools set out in the Mindsafe Program they build inner strength and constructive motivation, vitality and drive. This newly acquired self-mastery then naturally expresses itself in the workplace, at home and in the other important areas of life.

Mindsafe has been developed over many years of multi-discipline training, mentoring and coaching across every industry and organisational hierarchy and through careful research into philosophical history, culture, work-life pressures study, influential leadership training, and emerging trends. The result is a truly innovative and proactive workplace wellness program which gets in front of mental health challenges effectively by;

  • Examining what goes on between people every day
  • Increasing engagement, innovation, and cooperative bonds across organisations
  • Increasing resilience of individuals and teams
  • Increasing compliance with welfare policies and legislation
  • Strengthening relationships and purpose at work and home
  • Decreasing unplanned events, bullying incidents, and worker’s compensation claims
  • Decreasing sick leave and staff turnover
  • Decreasing absenteeism and presenteeism

For more information or discuss your training needs please feel free to get in touch.

Contact me directly 0414 460 859 or

Peter Broadbent

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