Mental health is a universal human right: how your business can support a mentally healthy workplace11 September 2023
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October 10 is World Mental Health Day (WMHD). This year’s theme is ‘Mental health is a universal human right'. World Mental Health Day is about raising awareness of mental health and driving positive change for everyone's mental health.
Mental health and work: interesting statistics
One in five Australians aged 16 – 85 experienced a mental health condition in the last 12 months, while 44% of Australians have experienced a mental health condition at some point in their life. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health condition, affecting one in six Australians.
When we look at the mental health of people with disability, 32% of adults living with disability experience high or very high levels of psychological distress, compared to 8% for those without disability.
If you look around your workplace today, one in five of your colleagues (or 20% of your workforce) could be experiencing poor mental health. Beyond Blue’s Heads Up Initiative found that having a mentally healthy workplace was the second most important factor in an employee’s decision to accept a new position, after the monetary remuneration on offer.
We know that work is a key source to improve and support our mental health and with many people spending more than a third of their life at work, it is incredibly important to create and promote a mentally healthy workplace, with a culture that encourages conversations about mental health.
Benefits of mentally healthy workplace
Did you know that untreated mental health conditions cost employers $10.9 billion every year through absenteeism, reduced productivity and increased compensation claims?
Providing a mentally healthy, inclusive and diverse workplace reflective of the society we live in, makes a good business sense. A mentally healthy workplace:
- improves employee productivity
- improves commercial outcomes
- helps attract and retain staff
How does JobAccess support mentally healthy workplaces
JobAccess provides various supports to employers, and people living with mental health conditions. Some of them include:
- Employers can speak with a JobAccess Adviser on 1800 464 800, to access tailored advice on workplace adjustments, modifications, one on one counselling and awareness training’ specifically to their workplace needs.
- Employers can visit the JobAccess Employer Toolkit which includes free, on-demand and practical resources covering all aspects of disability employment, including mental health. This free toolkit is designed to build employer confidence and equip organisations with the skills to effectively manage common mental health conditions at work.
- JobAccess can organise on-the-job training, funded through the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF), for managers and employees with mental health conditions.
The EAF can provide up to $1500 per annum to employers for each eligible employee, to conduct mental health awareness training at the workplace. This training is delivered by qualified professionals with specialist expertise, increasing awareness, reducing stigma, improving attitudes, as well as increasing the confidence of employers and co-workers in assisting someone experiencing mental ill health.
- Funding for professional counselling by a registered psychologist, where the counselling will assist the person in carrying out their job duties. Most assistance is in response to depression, stress, mood disorders, anxiety and anger management issues.
How businesses can encourage a mentally healthy workplace
A healthy workplace benefits all employees including those living with mental health conditions. Here are some helpful tips that can help businesses to create a mentally healthy workplace:
- Providing an Employee Assistance Program, offering your workforce with access to free counselling.
- Arranging additional one to one meetings.
- Ensuring your management team have completed mental health awareness. training, and embody a leadership style that is approachable and understanding.
- Ensuring taking breaks is a part of the workplace culture.
- Providing regular performance feedback.
- Considering flexible working arrangements, such as working from home or different start and end times. These small adjustments can make a huge difference for someone living with a mental health condition.
- Providing information and hosting workshops about various wellbeing topics such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness and so on. This also helps normalise topics around mental health, and starts the conversation amongst your team.
- If your employee has been away from work due to their mental health condition, providing a return-to-work plan can really help them settle back in and get back to performing in their role.
- Having a buddy / mentor program in place. This can foster relationships at work, where employees can discuss their mental health in a safe space.
- Consider providing the ability to utilise unpaid leave when required.
- If your team members work from home, ensure you check in regularly for social connection, and ensure you are still providing a space for social connection, like virtual morning teas. Perhaps you can start your first virtual morning tea by supporting World Mental Health Day (WMHD).
The Queensland Government’s Flexible by Design is a good example of a principle-based framework for flexible working designed to increase productivity while promoting employee wellbeing.
Contact JobAccess to discuss your specific needs and requirements. Our team of experts are here to help develop and implement good practice in building mentally healthy workplaces. Visit www.jobaccess.gov.au for more information.