Nine ways you can foster better workplace mental health

Oct 10, 2014

Ready to take action on improving employee mental health but not sure what to do next? Here are nine ways to foster better mental health in the workplace.

1. Include mental health as a clearly defined priority in your organisation's vision.

If profitability and responsible business practices are part of your company’s vision, mental health should also be a priority. It’s important to communicate your commitment to mental health to all employees – make it a part of induction packs for new starters, display posters in your workplace about mental health and include policy information on your intranet.

2. Introduce wellness programs and become actively involved in them.

Wellness programs can include the provision of information and training in areas of stress management, bullying and harassment and mental health awareness. They can also include coaching and mentoring initiatives or simple actions such as establishing lunchtime walking groups.

3. Seek regular feedback from employees.

Every workplace is unique. Identifying the needs and preferences of employees can help ensure you are implementing the right mental health plan for your business. Feedback can be sought through confidential surveys, one-on-one meetings, a suggestion box in your workplace, or you could host a meeting with staff to encourage an open exchange of ideas.

4. Encourage mental health champions.

Workplace mental health champions can help put a plan into action by raising overall awareness of mental health and providing specific details on workplace support and assistance.

5. Ensure that work–life balance is not an empty slogan.

Provide examples that show you are serious about the mental health of your employees. This includes a commitment to flexible working practices such as variable start and finish times, working from home, discretionary leave and designing jobs to reduce repetitive work.

6. Introduce social and sporting activities among employees.

Consider starting a social club at your workplace. Social activities can help relieve stress and foster a collaborative workplace. Physical activity also has a positive link to mental health – you could introduce yoga or Pilates classes, or lunchtime soccer.

7. Ensure a culture of openness.

Sharing business strategies and successes can help employees see their own positive contribution to the business. It’s also important to ensure that leaders within your business are visible and approachable. This can be achieved through open-door policies, mentorship programs and regular manager-employee catch-ups.

8. Provide access to counselling or other support services.

Counselling and support services can be particularly useful when workers are returning to work after experiencing a mental health condition. Counselling based on cognitive behavioural therapy, for example, could seek to understand the cause of workplace stress and develop ways to avoid or manage it in the future.

9. Invite guest speakers to talk about mental health and how to improve your wellbeing in the workplace.

Guest speakers can be invited to speak about a range of wellness topics, such as managing your finances, healthy eating and stress management.

With one in five Australians experiencing a mental health condition in any given year, taking action to improve mental health in the workplace is critically important for business.

A 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report on mental health in the workplace estimated that the costs incurred when employers do not take action to manage mental health conditions in their business costs Australian business approximately $10.9 billion per year. But the report also showed that, on average, businesses will experience a return of $2.30 for every $1 invested in initiatives that foster better mental health in the workplace – and even higher in some industries.

Find more mental health resources: register with Heads Up

Heads Up is a joint initiative of Beyond Blue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (MHWA). To access the Heads Up Action Plan and business leader tools for better workplace health, simply register your details.

Heads Up on LinkedIn 

If you would like more information and resources about how to create a more mentally healthy workplace, please visit our LinkedIn company page, which is regularly updated with stories and links related to the issue.

If you would like to join the discussion about a mentally healthy workplace, please visit our LinkedIn group page and become part of the conversation.



Top Stories

  • The role of resilience in the workplace

    While it’s good to be able to manage stress and hostile situations, if your workplace is putting a strain on your mental health then resilience may not be the only answer. We spend a third of our day at work so we need to be able to identify what is causing the stress in the first place and put steps in motion to move forward.
    Learn more