Speaker Notes for the Resilience PowerPoint
Slide 1: Resilience
Introduce yourself and maybe other people in attendance if the group is small.
Slide 2: Outline
Within this presentation the following will be covered
Slide 3: What is the Mental Health Association NSW?
The team who developed this PowerPoint slideshow
Slide 4: What is Mental Health Week?
Overview of what Mental Health Week (MHW) campaign
Slide 5: What is Mental Health Week? (Continued)
Overview of MHW 2008-08-27
Slide 6: What is Resilience to You?
This could be a section where you brainstorm meanings of the word resilience with
the people you are speaking to.
Try to come up with as many as possible, write down the suggestions on a
white/black-board, or on butcher’s paper, create a mind-map.
On the slide are just some suggestions as to what resilience may mean to people, put
these up after the brainstorming session
Slide 7: What is Resilience?
A classic definition of resilience is the ability to bounce back, cope and/or deal with
stressful or challenging situations. It also means that as a human being we adapt and
change to these situations or challenges in a way that will not leave us with lasting
consequences, either, physically, emotionally or psychological.
Developing a greater level of resilience won’t stop bad or stressful things from
happening, but can reduce the level of disruption a stressor has and the time taken to
recover. Whether the experience be everyday occurrences like late trains or faulty
computers, or longer term stressors such as illness, loss, relationship breakdown,
changing jobs or being the victim of a crime; our ability to be resilient can help us
cope and bounce back from the experience.
There are many times when an individual or community needs to show their
resilience. (Question to ask participants - When do you think that an individual or
community needs to show their resilience?)
Slide 8: Why are Some People More Resilient than Others?
There are a number of reasons as to why some people are more resilient than others.
One important factor we need to consider is that everyone is different in the way that
they deal with challenges.
Resilience is about coping with certain events in an effective way and adapting to the
challenges experienced during stressful situations. Resilient individuals are said to
have an excited and active approach to life, they are curious and open to new
experiences and do things to increase their experience of positive emotions.
There are many different factors that influence how a person’s reacts when faced with
stressful or challenging experiences within their life.
One factor that impacts upon a person’s reaction is their individual health and
wellbeing. Individual health and wellbeing incorporates both a person’s physical as
well as their emotional and mental health and wellbeing. This includes things such as
• social skills- how they interact and communicate with other people,
• sense of self: knowing their own strengths and focusing on these and improving
upon weaknesses that they know they have,
• having a sense of purpose in life: why they do the job they do,
• a sense of control: even having routines helps people realise that they have control
within their life
• Ability to regulate emotions: this doesn’t mean hiding your emotions, just the
realisation that sometimes it is important not to let your emotions get the better of
you and to be able to think clearly without your emotions getting in the way
• Can solve problems constructively: this is just the ability to keep a level head
when something difficult or problematic comes up within their lives
Another factor that can influence a person’s reaction to a stressful or difficult situation
is individual factors. This includes a person’s;
• Genetics: No two people have the same sets of genes (unless they are identical
• Personality: each person has a unique personality
• Ethnicity and cultural background: where you have grown up and cultural
traditions within this area can impact on how you experience stress and therefore
how you deal with it too.
• Economic background: money doesn’t make the world go round, but impacts on
some of the experiences and opportunities that are available to people throughout
• Geographic and social region: how close are you to other people and services
A person’s life history and experiences also influences how a persons deals with
stressful and challenging situations.
• Family history: such as medical conditions, but can also include the closeness of
the family, how all members interact and get along with one another
• Physical health: is important when building and improving a person’s resilience
• Mental health: good mental health is also important when building and improving
a person’s resilience
• Previous experience of trauma: previous experience to trauma may mean you
already have a knowledge of how to deal with a different stressor within your life
• Social and cultural experiences: how other people you know have dealt with
similar situations. Also how your culture deals with certain situations
• Past ways of coping with stress: if you have dealt with stress in the past and the
physical and mental ways of dealing with this stress worked, by employing these
techniques, your feeling of stress may be diminished.
A final way (at least of what is covered within this topic) is a person’s social and
community support. This includes support from;
• Member’s of the community,
All types of social networks and communication are important, as people within these
groups help in your ability to overcome hardships.
Slide 9: How Does Resilience Relate to my Mental Health?
Building our skills to be resilient in times of stress can buffer us from developing
mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Resilience may help offset certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of
experiencing a mental illness, such as lack of social support, being bullied or
Examples of Resilience
Many researchers have focused on studying the relationship between resilience and a
person’s ability to overcome hardships. These studies often show that people who
report high levels of resilience have been able to adapt to life in the face of setbacks at
greater levels, than those with low levels of reported resilience. Some examples of
people overcoming hardships as a result of having high resilience include;
Holocaust survivors faced many hardships such as starvation, beatings, hard living
conditions and the murder of close family and friends. These people then had to adapt
back into normal life after the war, or if they had fled to a different country, needed to
adapt to a new culture. Those who were able to cope in these many stressful
situations they experienced reported high levels of resilience within research studies.
It is also well documented within Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning”
which details his experiences within a concentration camp during WW2 and how he
found his reason for living.
Children who grow up in difficult circumstances (e.g. experience abuse) can have
long, positive and fulfilling lives with little or no psychological problems from these
environments. Even though the early experiences are difficult, they may have had
things in their lives that buffer them against these adverse situations, e.g. a school
teacher, adult role model, sporting club or a friend. Resilient individuals are able to
focus their energy on positive situations in the face of adverse circumstances.
Question for audience - Can you think of people you know who have shown high
levels of resilience, even in the toughest times?
Question for audience - Do you think you have a high level of resilience? How have
you dealt with challenging situations?
Slide 10: What Promotes Your Resilience?
Again here is another opportunity to brainstorm with your audience about ideas that
helps them overcome hard and trying times. That is things that may build their
Slide 11: What Promotes Your Resilience?
Here a few suggestions that you may have thought of as a group and others you may
not have. Maybe talk about the ones that your group didn’t think of
Slide 12: What Drains Your Resilience?
Just a moment to think about what doesn’t promote resilience
Slide 13: How to Improve Individual Resilience
We’ve provided some ideas in the form of our 10 tips to build your resilience adapted
from our 10 Tips to Stress Less resource.
We can all build and improve on our ability to be resilient when faced with stressful
and difficult situations. Listed are some helpful tips that you can use to build your
resilience. Pick one that you may like to develop or focus on today.
Accept the things you can’t change- Change is a part of life and not all things in life
can be controlled. By accepting change as a fact of life you can increase your ability
to cope when things change unexpectedly, and have the flexibility to adjust your goals
Find opportunities in life’s challenges- Life has been described by many as a
challenge. These challenges occur within our everyday lives and often cannot be
avoided. By looking for opportunities in life’s everyday challenges, you can use them
to help you move forward and achieve your goals.
Focus on the present- Focusing on the moment, and the things in your life that you
have right now, and focusing less on the “could haves” in life can help build a
positive outlook. Put energy into achieving realistic goals in your present, and
acknowledging what you have and less on tasks that are impossible to achieve.
Set realistic goals for yourself- Everyone has goals that they are aiming toward. By
setting realistic goals for yourself, that are not so high that they are unachievable, you
will realise that you are capable of accomplishing a lot and this will motivate you to
set more goals.
Be active, eat and rest well- Your body is your temple, so you should look after it.
Physical activity as well as a decent night’s sleep and periods of relaxation during
your day are all beneficial for our overall wellbeing. Certain foods also have an affect
on your energy levels and moods throughout the day, so be sure to watch what you
Relax with a cup of tea- A cup of tea offers an array of health benefits. These
benefits include lowering your risk for certain types of cancers, dangerous cholesterol
levels and heart disease. There are also the social benefits of taking time out to share a
cup of tea with others. Taking time out to connect with other people can re-energise
you and help you re-focus on tasks.
Use humour to see things differently- Humour is a useful tool many use to cope
with difficult events. By finding the humour in situations, you are able to consider the
problem in different ways and maybe even find a solution.
Develop supportive relationships- Family, friendships and romantic relationships
are important aspects of our lives. They provide support in times of stress and can
enhance the joy experienced during good times. Research indicates that having a
good network of friends can actually make you live longer.
Note 5 positive things each day- By reviewing the past day and the positive things
that have happened to you, you’ll feel better and more in that moment. Furthermore,
on days when you can not remember the positives you can improve your mood by
reading back over other positives you experienced on previous days. Listing these
positive events creates a valuable written resource to draw on during difficult times.
Give someone a helping hand- Helping people in need can make you and the person
you are helping feel good and strengthens the bond between you. So aim to help one
person each day.
Slide 14: What is a Resilient Community?
When we talk about a community within this next section what we mean is any group
of people who share similar characteristics or interests, this could include school
community, work community, or a geographical community
A resilient community is defined as a community “that takes intentional action to
enhance the personal and collective capacity of its citizens and institutions to respond
to, and influence the course of social and economic change”
This mean that the community as a whole takes action to improve the ability of people
and organisations within the community, at both the individual level and also as a
whole community, to respond to situations that may arise within the community. This
includes both economic situations (such as a recession) and also social situations
(maybe a young father and father dying and the community seeking to help the
Slide 15: Resilience Factors for Community
Here are many factors that have an effect upon the resilience of a whole community.
These factors are presented within the mind map we have adapted.
Leisure activities such as music, art and nature: Is there somewhere within the
community that a person can go to enjoy these, such as a park with free concerts? Do
schools, halls, colleges put on art and music shows?
Social Networking: do you have a group of friends that support and comfort you
within hard times? Does your community provide a place where people can meet up
for example a lunch room, a park, restaurants.
Active Living: how is your community set out? Does it encourage people to walk to
work/public transport, or are these not available so that people drive everywhere? By
having a community where people can walk to where they need to go, their physical
health and feelings of connectivity within the community are improved.
Goal setting: what plans or goals does your community have for the near and long
future? This will give the community direction, just as it does for individuals.
Resource: are people within the community easily able to access information about
what’s happening in the community? This may be in the form or local newspapers,
websites, emails or pamphlets.
Economic: what is the income level within the community? Are free activities
available so that all members can participate regardless of their income?
Geographical: what is the geographical make-up of your community? How isolated
are people in the community from essential services? If they are isolated what
services for the elderly or people with disabilities within the community? How far do
people have to travel to work, are there services provided, e.g. trains and buses so
people can get to work, school and services.
Cultural/Religious: Are there groups, institutions available that people belong to a
group who share similar beliefs and ideas?
Slide 16: Community Resilience
By taking ideas from the previous two exercises, put these together to think of ways
that a whole community can build their resilience
Slide 17: How to Build Community Resilience
Have community cohesion: work together as a community towards common goals
that the community has decided on increasing the community’s sense of optimism and
morale. This could include things like working bees to improve the look of a park,
sporting activities and food festivals as well as interests groups to promote change
within the community.
Build stronger families within the community: have community education programs
to improve skills in areas such a parenting, communication, relationships, money
management, stress management and coping skills. An example of this is the
parenting classes that many communities and hospitals hold for first time parents
Develop cultural competency: value and respect the cultural diversity within the
community. Educate and train key community members so that support is available
to all within the community. This could include having a multicultural weekend, with
people from different cultures show casing, dance, music and/or food from their
culture. E.g. Greek Festival of Sydney is held each year in March
Build safe and healthy environments: this includes lowering the threat of violence.
By having safe and secure communities, members within the community are able to
mange and deal with challenging situations positively. This could include having safe
houses within the community that children know they can go to, or talking to the local
government and police about greater presence within the community. E.g.
neighbourhood watch and the safety house program
Encourage healthy lifestyles: promote regular physical exercise in the community
through the creation of bike and walking paths. Also have walk/run-a-thons or
community groups where people can participate in these activities. E.g. 10 000 steps
program, Annual City-to Surf run in Sydney
Provide social and support groups for members of the community: these can include
but are not limited to
Single mothers groups
Social outing groups
Groups for parents with sick children
Seasons for growth program: is a peer support, small group program. The program
allows for the exploration and understanding of change, loss and grief within an
Informal community education (learning) framework. The program develops
strategies to cope with change, grief and loss in our lives.
Slide 18: Example of a Community Program to Promote Resilience
When building community resilience it is important to remember that it is a process.
There will be set-backs and a need to give people second chances. It is important to
start slowly, be practical and have partnerships with the community. Any change will
The Perry Pre-School Program was for children who were from poor families and
were at risk of failing in school. 5 days a week the children went to a pre-school
program that was aimed at giving them maximum interaction and stimulation. This
continued up until the children went to school at about age 6. When compared to a
control group (that is a group were the children went to childcare that was available or
none at all) the children within the group that did go to the specialised program, had
increases in cognition, academic achievement, high school graduation, employment
rates and greater post-secondary enrolment.
21 years later they followed up the two groups and found there was 40% less crime
and teenage pregnancies within the group that went to the specialised pre-school.
Further, those women who attended the specialised pre-school, only 7% had mental
health problems by the age of 27, compared to 40% in the control group.
The benefits of running this program greatly exceed the costs that would have
occurred had there been on intervention, such as hospital payments and the cost of
Slide 19: Example of a Community Program to Promote Resilience
Here’s an example of building community resilience within a Sydney inner city area.
Over 40 years ago, high rise apartment building were seen as the solution to Sydney’s
public housing problem, one of these apartments was Northcott Place in Redfern. In
the 1980s the decision to integrate mental health patients into the community was
made which lead to drug related crimes and murders within the area, scaring many not
to leave their units. A few years ago public health workers and organisations such as
Big Hart made the effort to turn this community around. These focused on members
of the apartment complex getting to know one another through the Tenant by Tenant
program in which tenants take portraits of each other with the help of a professional
photographer, or programs where they tell each other their stories, or create songs.
Further there are tenant tai chi classes which again bring members of the community
together to mix and interact. It must be noted that there are still problems within this
community; however the community is offered the opportunity to drive itself in a new
direction from the crimes contained within.
Slide 20: Gratitude and Resilience
Gratitude is a positive emotion that we can experience. It is where a person is
thankful for various things within their life on what is pleasurable, nurturing, and
sustaining in our lives and away from those events that are annoying, frustrating, or
hurtful. It also is about being thankful for the little things that are easy to miss, but
not go without. Gratitude also goes by the word of appreciation.
Gratitude and resilience are interconnected with each other. Studies in the area of
gratitude have found that people who record daily positive things that have happened
to them have a more optimistic view of the world, experience a generally more
positive mood, help others more than those that don’t keep this daily record and
By improving our skills of showing and expressing gratitude we connect more with
other people who in turn connect more with you. This creates bonds within the
community which can be drawn on in times of hardships.
Slide 21: How to Appreciate the Little Things in Life
Here’s another chance to brainstorm other ways to show gratitude. Once this is done
you can explain the suggestions we have put on the slide for you
As mentioned earlier, one way of showing gratitude and improving your resilience is
in the creation of a gratitude journal. Within this you mention a number of positive
things that has happened to you each day. Set a goal for the number of things you
remember, this may only be 5, but on days when you can’t think of any positive
things that happened to you, you can read back through past positive experiences, and
this may improve your mood. Further by creating a gratitude journal you may
actively seek out the good that is happening within the world and remember it to put
in your journal, which also may improve your mood. Remember these positive things
could be as small as receiving a text message off a friend, or hearing a funny joke.
Celebrate the small things in life, not just birthdays, weddings, graduations, once a
year family get togethers. Reward someone when they do well at work (have gold
stars and give to colleagues when they learn new skills or complete a hard task), go
out for a walk with a friend after the sun shows itself after a week of rain, or just
reward yourself with something you enjoy after you have done an unpleasant task,
such as cleaning a room
Slow Down and savour, or “take time to smell the roses” is all about enjoying things
when they happen and then reminiscing this event to other people. Maybe take a
souvenir so that you can remember the event at a later date and even engage yourself
fully within an experience, use all your senses so that you can remember each
Slides 22-24: Where to From Here?
Resources that people can use to get more information on the topic