The Heads Up team often gets asked what individual employees can do to make their workplaces more mentally healthy – especially those working in difficult or unsupportive environments.

While you might not be able to instantly overhaul your workplace's approach to mental health, there are some simple steps you can take to look after yourself and your colleagues. These include managing your stress levels, looking out for colleagues going through a tough time, learning about your support options and reaching out when you need it. 

Check out our suggestions below and give them a go in your workplace. You might be surprised at the difference small changes can make.     

1. Give yourself a mental health check

If you’ve been feeling down, stressed, anxious, sad or finding it hard to cope, learning about anxiety and depression is a good place to start. You can also complete a short checklist to get a better understanding of how you’re feeling.

2. Scale back your stress

Feeling stressed is different to experiencing anxiety or depression, but prolonged or excessive job stress can be damaging to your mental health. From making time for the things you enjoy to adjusting the parts of your schedule you can control, we've got some ideas for you to think about.

Everyone has the

right

to a safe, healthy workplace

3. Know your rights…and your responsibilities

If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression, you’re legally protected against discrimination in the workplace. You also have a right to privacy, a right to a healthy, safe workplace, and are not legally required to tell your employer – unless your condition could endanger you or your colleagues.

4. Ask for support if you need it

Telling your employer about your condition means you can get the support you need, but it can be a delicate decision that’s not always right for everyone. We can help you choose whether to disclose and, if you do, plan the conversation with your manager. 

By law, your employer must make 'reasonable adjustments' to your role or schedule to support you.

5. Support others in the workplace

If someone you work with doesn’t seem themselves, checking in to see if they’re OK and providing support can make a big difference. Everyone benefits from positive workplaces, where people feel confident having conversations with colleagues and comfortable accepting support.

6. Be an influencer

As an individual, there will no doubt be some elements of your workplace that you can’t change. Some actions need buy-in from senior people to get off the ground, or require decisions that you might not have responsibility for.

If your manager keeps putting workplace mental health in the ‘too hard basket’, give them a nudge with the Heads Up getting started pack. It includes top tips for different sized businesses, as well as tools and templates to communicate with employees and develop policies that meet the organisation’s needs.

If your boss needs further convincing, share the business case for action and tell them about how much you, your colleagues and more than 75 per cent of all employees in Australia value good mental health at work