According to the Diversity Council Australia (DCA) in any one year, around one million Australian adults have depression, and more than 2 million have anxiety. Untreated mental health conditions cost Australian employers $10.9 billion every year through absenteeism, reduced productivity and compensation claims. But the good news is that for every $1 invested in effective mental health initiatives there is a return of $2.30.
To help employers invest in mental health initiatives for their workplace, we’ve put together five tips worth employing for building a mentally healthy work environment.
- Physical and mental health – Equally as important
Mental and physical health is fundamentally linked. There are multiple associations between mental health and physical health that significantly impact people’s quality of life, demands on health care and other publicly funded services.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Make sure your managers understand that they should treat mental injuries as seriously as they do physical injuries.
- Consider workplace flexibility and job design
With developments in technology and employers gaining a greater understanding of work-life balance, there’s never been a more important time to consider flexible working arrangements. When employers can accommodate changes to hours of work (such as changes to start and finish times), patterns of work (such as shifts or job sharing) and locations of work (such as working from home or different offices) it can significantly and positively impact the mental and physical health of an employee, not to mention productivity.
- Provision of appropriate resources and support for managing mental illness
There are a number of quality programs, tools and apps that have been developed and are highly beneficial recourses. We recently reviewed Happify and Headspace- two popular apps used to help people train their minds using meditation and mindfulness techniques. GB clients can get access to Happify at a discounted rate.
If you have an Employee Assistance Program in place, make sure your provider understands your industry and can deliver comprehensive, applicable services.
- Create awareness and understanding across the workplace
According to the fantastic website Heads Up, ‘Supporting someone with a mental health condition to stay at or return to work has a number of benefits, for both the employee and the business. Work can play a key role in the person’s recovery and positives for the business include retaining valuable skills and experience, and avoiding the cost of hiring and training new employees’
Keen to kick start your organisation’s path towards a mentally healthy workplace? Review our strategies for building a resilient workforce and implementing mindfulness into your workplace. A number of organisations, including beyondblue, also conduct workshops on understanding mental health
- Remove the stigma associated with mental illness.
Workplaces that encourage and support conversations about stress and struggles can help alleviate possible stigma that has traditionally been associated with mental illness. We recently wrote some tips on how to talk to your employee about mental health that can help with identifying any potential issues but also how to address the sometimes sensitive topic.
If you would like to have a discussion with GB about what action plans are available to improve the mental health and wellbeing of your workplace, contact us today.