Promoting mental health in the workplace benefits everyone; employees, managers, business owners and organisational leaders. Everyone has a role to play, both in looking after their own mental health and creating a mentally healthy workplace.

What is a mentally healthy workplace?

While the places we work come in all shapes and sizes, mentally healthy working environments generally have a few things in common.  

  • Positive workplace culture. Put simply, they're places where people feel good about coming to work, and everyone's encouraged and supported.
  • Stress and other risks to mental health are managed. Stress, heavy workloads, unrealistic deadlines, poor communication, uncertainty - these and other factors can all contribute to anxiety and depression, and it's up to managers and leaders to keep them in check. 
  • People with mental health conditions are supported. Helping employees to stay at or return to work has clear benefits, both for the individual and the business. 
  • Zero-tolerance approach to discrimination. As well as being a legal requirement, protecting employees from discrimination encourages a diverse workforce and ensures everyone gets a fair go.  

Creating a mentally healthy workplace isn't as difficult as you might think. We've got tailored resources to help every workplace and individual in Australia take action.

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Workplaces can affect mental health – either positively or negatively

While being employed is generally better for our mental health than unemployment, some factors at work can have a negative effect on our health and wellbeing. 

‘Job stress’, or work-related stress, occurs when someone feels that the demands of their role are greater than their abilities or resources to do the work. While stress isn't the same thing as anxiety or depression, excessive or long-term stress can increase your risk of developing a mental health condition.

The majority of job roles and working environments have stressors or risk factors for mental health. Employers have a legal responsibility to reduce these risks so far as is 'reasonably practicable' for their workplace. This measure is different for every workplace and situation, taking into account factors such as the likelihood of risk, degree of harm, and the availability, suitability and cost of any solutions.  

Key facts

  • It's estimated that 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, the most common being anxiety and depression.
  • Although anxiety and depression can be as debilitating as a serious physical illness, less than half of the people experiencing these conditions seek help.
  • Anxiety and depression tend to affect people during their prime working years.

At any given time, around one in five Australian employees is experiencing a mental health condition. This means it’s in the interests of organisations to take action to promote good mental health practices in the workplace and support employees experiencing depression and anxiety.

Did you know...

Around 90 per cent of employees think mental health is an important issue for businesses, but only 50 per cent believe their workplace is mentally healthy.

Read the State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia report



One in five Australian workers is
currently experiencing a mental health condition