The mental wellbeing of people at work is good for everyone and enhances personal and organisational resilience, and success. Everyone has a role to play, both in looking after their own mental health and creating 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.



The good and bad of workplaces

While being employed is generally better for our mental health than unemployment, some factors at work can affect our health and wellbeing negatively, such as:

  • Workplace stresses, which occur 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, as can;
  • Inadequate resources provided, the level of work engagement and potential exposure to traumatic events;
  • Lack of support from colleagues and managers, poor relationships between, ineffective leadership and manager training availability;
  • Changes to the organisation, support from the organisation as a whole, recognising and rewarding work, how justice is perceived in an organisation, a positive organisational climate  and a safe physical environment.



Creating a healthy workplace isn't as difficult as you might think

Here are some ideas:

  • Leaders to make a commitment to mental health in the workplace and offering education or training in mental health.
  • Focus on the work environment: simple things like natural light, plants, standing desk options, social meeting spaces.
  • Healthy food options.
  • Flexible working arrangements combined with physical activity discounts from nearby sports facilities or internal options to relax.
  • Free counselling through an employee assist program.
  • Policies to swap pay for leave.



Want some more information and tips?

Find more information on what you can do as an organisation, manager or employee:

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.1

Read the State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia report (PDF)

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.2
  • Although anxiety and depression can be as debilitating as a serious physical illness, less than half of the people experiencing these conditions seek help.3
  • Anxiety and depression tend to affect people during their prime working years.4


One in five Australian workers is
currently experiencing a mental health condition5