Home' Facility Perspectives : Vol 13 No 1 Contents T
aking a quick look around a
workplace, it is easy to identify
staff members who have
physical ailments. They might be
coughing, have a bandaged hand,
a leg in plaster, or look pale and unwell. But
trying to spot those with a mental health
condition is not as easy, despite the fact that
one in every five Australian workers is likely
to be experiencing a mental illness right now.
They usually don’t show physical signs
of distress, and in many cases don’t speak
about their condition because they fear the
stigma associated with mental illness.
beyondblue is working hard to change
this situation, and it is pleasing to know that
many workplaces are on the same page.
We know we can make a difference
because we have been there before. The
phenomenal reduction of physical injuries
in workplaces through occupational health
and safety reform has reduced work-
related fatalities by 30 per cent since 2003.
Businesses realised they could play a crucial
role in saving lives and reducing injuries,
and now have ingrained strategies and
processes in place to ensure the physical
safety of their workforce.
They also understand that mental health
is an important workplace issue, but many
are not quite sure what to do about it. This
is where beyondblue’s Heads Up resources
come to the fore. There was a time when
workplace mental health programs only
consisted of fruit bowls and yoga classes.
While these initiatives do serve a purpose,
Heads Up promotes the multifaceted
approach that can achieve long-lasting
The good news is, the process doesn’t
have to be complicated. Leaders must
take the crucial first step. They positively
influence workplace culture and behavioural
change, and can play a critical role in driving
mental health policies and practices. By
educating themselves about workplace
mental health, identifying influential
staff champions to take up the cause,
and allowing everyone to identify risks
and provide solutions, leaders lay the
groundwork for people to thrive.
Allowing staff to have their say will help
identify common barriers to creating a
mentally healthy organisation, such as the
amount of time employees spend at work,
the intensity of the work they do, clarity
about their roles and responsibilities, and
conveying constructive feedback.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Because research shows that employees
who are overworked, unsure about what
their role entails, have little to no breaks
during working hours or are not given
insights about their performance, will have
difficulties producing their best work. The
evidence shows that a mentally healthy
work environment is an important factor
for employees when considering where
they want to work. Unfortunately, many
workplaces are not delivering on this.
Step inside a mentally healthy workplace
and you will find that staff members are
more engaged, motivated and likely to go
above and beyond in their roles. They are
not afraid to speak up when they need
support because they know it will have no
bearing on how people see their capability
to do their job or jeopardise their chances
of promotion. They are supported by good
leaders and managers, a positive culture and
great policies and processes so they can be
at their best.
There are also financial gains to be made.
According to a PwC study from 2014,
organisations that invest in well-targeted
strategies to create a mentally healthy
environment enjoy an average return on
investment of $2.30 for every dollar spent.
These protective factors are based on
years of evidence collated through Heads
Up, an initiative of beyondblue and the
Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance. The
Heads Up website provides comprehensive
information on how to create a mentally
healthy workplace and advice for leaders,
managers and employees, and it is all free.
Heads Up explains the signs and
symptoms of anxiety and depression, how
to have a conversation with a colleague
you are worried about, and tips on how
to support the person. Importantly, it
provides a pathway for assessing the needs
of individual workplaces and a method for
developing and implementing a workplace
mental health plan.
We know it works, because leaders
who have engaged with Heads Up have
told beyondblue that they are more likely
to take action towards creating mentally
healthy workplaces than those who haven’t.
Workplace mental health can no longer be
ignored, because the mental health literacy
of Australia’s workers is at an all-time high.
beyondblue’s Heads Up resource is available
anywhere, any time, to help businesses
support their staff.
Workplace mental health
is more than just fruit bowls and yoga
By Patrice O’Brien, General Manager Workplace,
Partnerships and Engagement, beyondblue
34 | FACILITY PERSPECTIVES | VOLUME 13 NUMBER 1
Links Archive Vol 12 No 4 Navigation Previous Page Next Page