Thursday 24 October 2019 11:51am


The mental health and wellbeing of those around her is important to Rachel Kinnaird. Her dedication and commitment to provide a healthy work environment for her team and raise awareness of positive wellbeing within the Department of Anatomy has seen her awarded the University of Otago Excellence Award in Health and Safety (Individual) for 2019.

Rachel is the manager of the 'body team' whose day-to-day activities include the handling of cadaveric material donated to the department through the Body Bequest Programme. She is only too aware of the physical and emotional challenges her team face each day, and the importance of providing a safe and happy work environment for all staff where they feel supported and appreciated.

Through establishing appropriate support systems, and her encouragement and understanding, her team has become stronger, cohesive, and happier.

Other initiatives she has introduced to the department to highlight the awareness of mental health and wellness include a photo competition where staff captured images showing the different ways they maintain positive wellbeing; gumboot decorating in support of the i am hope charity's Gumboot Friday; Kudos cards which give staff and students the opportunity to give positive feedback to others; conversation starter kits in the tearoom which encourage staff to get to know each other better; and lunch-time massages for those in need.

Rachel's take-home message on wellbeing is simple. We can all look after the health and wellness of those around us. Take the time to listen to your friends, family and colleagues. If you see someone struggling, help them seek the support they need to move through the difficulty, and don't forget to 'check-in' with them along the way.

One of her favourite quotes is “Have courage, work hard, be kind” which translates to: have the courage to be the person you want to be; work hard at being that person; be kind to yourself and those around you.

If we all incorporate this into our daily lives, we would all live in a much happier place.

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