Are you feeling burnout? Challenge accepted!

Feeling a bit cynical about work lately?

Did you know that the top three symptoms of burnout are cynicism, exhaustion and reduced efficacy? Basically a reduced ability to get the job done.

I’ve been editing the episodes for our upcoming 30 Day Challenge on Burnout, and I have to admit that before pressing ‘play’ I was a bit hesitant. I mean, how long can you really talk about burnout?

But it’s fascinating!

Fleur has interviewed Chantal Masters, a psychologist based out of Goondiwindi.

Together with Suzie Collins, psychologist and Katherine Johnstone, an accredited mental health social worker, they have developed Rural Sky- a business designed to provide evidence-based assessment, therapy, life-coaching and interesting, informative workshops.

Chantal has kindly answered some questions about herself so we can get to know her before the challenge starts.

And of course, to sign up for the 30 Day Challenge on Burnout- what it is, how to recognise it in yourself and others, and how to avoid it, click here.







What opportunity or gap did you see that inspired this business?

As many rural people are aware there is a huge shortage of mental health professionals in the bush, among other professionals of course. We found that while the mental health providers being sent from organisations in the cities were caring and professional, they were very limited on time due to the distances they need to cover; and their understanding of what it is really like to live and work in the bush can be restricted.

The three of us, Katherine, Suzie and myself are ‘bush’ born and bred and we’re here to stay. We love our work and we really believe in the power and ingenuity of country people. We joined our considerable skill and experience across a breadth and depth of a variety of fields to deliver a mental health service that genuinely ‘gets’ country people and their struggles. We felt that we could fill the quality of service gap and go some way to filling the copious need.

 Biggest challenge making it a reality?

One of the biggest challenges we had and still have is trying to get together and do the all-important strategic planning to make sure we’re all on the same page and know where we are heading. This is because we are so busy doing the job at the front line, and also balancing our roles as wives, mothers and community members. More planning is something we all know we have to work on!

Most satisfying moment so far?

Well I can’t speak for the other two (!) but for me it has been the recognition of our brand and the support we have received so far from local people and other health professionals, especially the wonderful group of doctors we are very lucky to have in Goondiwindi. We have had no shortage of work because of that.

I think the other highlight for me is that as a team, we are prepared to go outside of our expected role of delivering a purely mental health service. We see the benefit of innovating and throwing our weight behind community-based programs that will help educate populations on health issues. In saying that we ran a very successful Mental Health Week 2017 Art Exhibition, which was open to anyone who wanted a chance to express their view on what mental health is and how we experience it in the bush. We had 77 entrants, which far exceeded our expectations - someone from the Philippines even contributed, and so much lovely local support. We want to make it bigger and better in 2018, so if anyone wants to add a piece – please drop it off to us in late September – you don’t have to be from Gundy!

What’s your favourite tip/app/hack that you use to keep on track? 

We have a growth mindset – we keep learning and exploring new ideas; and we recognise and celebrate each other’s strengths. All three of us take as many opportunities as we can to stay at the leading edge of our fields. We travel to workshops and conferences and bring that knowledge back home so that our patients can rest assured we are delivering the best quality service; and talking with other professionals in our field ensures we remain encouraged and inspired by what we do.

 If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be?

Oooo..that’s hard because I admire so many women. I do have a soft spot for Quentin Bryce – a rural woman originally, of course and so accomplished. I think Julie Bishop has a great job that I wouldn’t mind trying! I love women who aren’t afraid to use their intellect and stand up to be counted. It’s tough when we are usually the ones needed to stay home and bring the children up well – somebody definitely has to do that otherwise the world would be a pretty crappy place. Women have always had to balance many roles if they want to be active and have a participatory role outside the home. I don’t really see an end to that constant striving for balance, but I do think we need to celebrate primary care-givers much more than we do. There is no more valuable job in the world than the one that has the number one priority of loving and giving attention to our children.

How do you switch off when you go home?

I always try to be mindful of re-setting before I walk through the door, to give my three girls all of my energy and attention. It might be the psychologist in me but I really notice a difference in their self-esteem and behaviour when I am fully present with them and curious about how life is going for them. Sometimes this is extremely hard – especially if it has been a long day with difficult or stressful work, but that kind of makes it even more important to stop, breathe and ask myself how do I want to be in the next space. It means I can go to work the next day refreshed and with limited ‘mother guilt’!

Best business advice anyone has ever given you?

I don’t want to give him a fat head but my husband has done ok in business and he does have a few good pearls of wisdom that I’ve taken on board over the years. I think the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from watching him are resilience when things don’t go my way (I used to throw a really good tanty – just ask him) and to back myself more. My Dad is a great role model for work ethic too. He hasn’t said as much but I reckon his motto is ‘just put your head down and get sh&%$t done’ and ‘always suck the most out of the lemon before you buy new pretty stuff – it doesn’t matter what the neighbours think’. They’re both very strong on not trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ actually. And they’re both successful farmers and businessmen so I think it’s ok to look up to them!

You’re talking ‘Burnout’ in RBC’s 30 Day Challenge- Why is it so important to keep on top of this?

I think it is not a stretch to say that for most people, their top priority is the people they love and care about. Whether that’s children, family, partners, community or even employees. When a person allows themselves to burn-out or if they’re on the way to burning out, they stop being able to give care and kindness to those around them. And just as importantly, they stop being able to care about themselves – which is when we get in to dangerous territory mentally, and the various areas of our life start to unravel. And what’s it all for? We have to stop and ask ourselves why we are driving ourselves to the point where we treat those we love disrespectfully, and ourselves with no care at all. Often the answer simply isn’t good enough. Getting the time, money and mindset balance right has been the impetus for a new business venture I have started with a fabulously smart accountant friend of mine. But that’s a whole new story isn’t it!

To sign up for the 30 Day Challenge on Burnout go to

Jayne CuddihyComment