Raising awareness

It’s important to increase awareness across a number of areas – mental health conditions, roles and responsibilities, and the benefits of creating a mentally healthy workplace. Awareness initiatives can include:

  • talking openly about mental health in the workplace, just as you would physical health
  • providing mental health training for all staff
  • incorporating mental health into staff induction, as well as training for managers and supervisors
  • making mental health information available via noticeboards, email or workplace intranet
  • participating in mental health-related events like R U OK? Day, Go Home on Time Day and World Mental Health Day
  • promoting support services such as Employee Assistance Programs, external helplines and referral services.

beyondblue's Workplace mental health awareness training is a free online resource for all employees. 

 

 

Speak openly about

mental

health, just as you would physical wellbeing

Reducing stigma

Bringing people into contact with those recovering from anxiety and depression is the most effective strategy to reduce stigma. We see that they are just like us, breaking down preconceived ideas and stereotypes.

The best kind of contact is:

  • face-to-face – including opportunities for personal interaction
  • targeted – focusing on key groups
  • local – involving people in a similar geographical area
  • credible – someone that resonates with employees
  • continuous – involving repeated contact, a variety of messages and different opportunities to discuss mental health.

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Ongoing support might include regular problem-solving meetings between the employee and their manager

Supporting individuals with mental health conditions

Helpful actions from employers may include:

  • providing changes to their job (also known as reasonable adjustments), such as allowing time off for the employee to attend appointments with mental health professionals or adjusting his or her working hours.
  • staying in touch during the employee’s absence from the workplace, and helping them return as quickly as is safe and appropriate.
  • providing rehabilitation and return to work programs where employees have experienced particular harm to their mental wellbeing at work.
  • providing ongoing support to employees who have returned to work – such as regular problem-solving meetings between the employee and their manager.

Promoting positive job roles and working environments

A positive working environment and culture begins at the top. For managers and leaders, it’s important to develop personal leadership skills based on the organisation’s needs. These might include communication, strategic planning, people development and change management.

When managers promote a safe and respectful workplace culture, their teams are better equipped to manage conflict, reduce absenteeism and turnover, and improve productivity.

Some examples of actions which may reduce risk factors related to mental health and contribute to a positive working environment include:

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  • work demands – Regularly review workloads at team meetings or catch ups with direct reports to ensure employees have sufficient resources (in terms of time, administrative support or equipment) to cope.
  • support from supervisors and/or colleagues – Hold regular meetings to discuss pressures and challenges within the team
  • levels of control – Let people have a say in how their own work is organised rather than imposing direction.
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  • recognition and reward – Formally or informally congratulate team members on a job well done. For example, recognise and reward ingenuity and effort, not just contribution and productivity.
  • role clarity and role conflict – Ensure employees have an up-to-date role or position description, which includes the role purpose, reporting relationships and the key duties expected of them.
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  • managing change – Ensure employees are consulted about workplace change. As a minimum, note that workers and/or their unions have a legal right to be consulted about significant changes under their award, agreement or industrial relations legislation.
  • discrimination – Provide cultural, disability and gender diversity awareness training for staff and managers, particularly those involved in recruitment processes.
  • bullying – Develop formal and informal confidential complaint handling processes to enable the reporting of inappropriate behaviour.