Importance of mental health in the workplace

Australians spend most of their waking hours at work. So work is more than just income. It connects us, gives us a sense of structure, purpose, and makes us feel accomplished. According to The Menally Healthy Workplace Alliance, mental illness costs her $20 billion to the Australian economy each year, resulting in lost productivity and labor force participation and is the leading reason for absenteeism. By taking a few simple steps to break down mental health stigma in the workplace, employers can expect big changes. The result is increased employee confidence, lower staff turnover, and stronger team cohesion and relationships.

How does mental health affect the workplace?

According to figures, 1 in 5 people in the workplace suffer from mental health issues. Anxiety, depression and substance abuse are the most common. Workplace issues that lead to mental health issues include:

  • Problems with the job itself – high demand but little control over the job
  • Lack of Recognition/Rewards for Good Effort – Not just for salary, but for recognition of a job well done
  • Job insecurity – if organizations are shrinking, mental health issues can occur for those who keep jobs
  • Bullying – a leading cause of mental illness in the workplace

What can employees do?

  1. Actively talk to your doctor, colleagues, family members, or friends to improve your mental health.
  2. Manage stress levels at work by talking to your boss and taking action early
  3. Find work life balance. Take regular breaks and don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  4. If your co-worker’s mood or behavior changes, reaching out to them can be the boost you need to start talking about health.

What Can Employers Do?

The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and Beyond blue launched the Heads Up campaign. This is about actively promoting mental health and supporting others in the workplace. Heads Up recognizes the important role employers play in creating a positive work environment and constructive work attitudes. Here are some steps you can take now to make a positive difference for your employees.

  1. Reducing stigma around mental health in the workplace – encouraging open communication to solve problems and respect people’s differences
  2. Be open to learning and understanding the mental health conditions and experiences of others – making employees aware of available resources and encouraging them to take action
  3. Be a positive role model – foster a culture that encourages everyone to do their best
  4. Speak up – eradicate any instances of bullying, harassment, or discrimination.

For more information on mental health and a complete list of things you can do to promote mental health as an employer, download below. Mental Health Workplace Alliance Guidehere


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