How support initiatives impact mental health conditions for employees

Oct 16, 2014

A new PricewaterhouseCoopers report shows that by implementing seven strategies to support those with a mental health condition can have a positive impact on employees. And that makes good business sense.

Through the implementation of seven key strategies in creating an environment which promotes mental health in the workplace, business leaders are taking a significant step in supporting their employees.

Pursuing these strategies not only builds a happier, healthier and ultimately more productive workforce, the impact can also be seen in a business’ bottom line. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report, investing in mental health programs makes financial sense – for every dollar spent there is an average $2.30 return on investment (ROI).

With one in five Australians experiencing a mental health condition in any year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the impact this can have on the workplace can be quite significant. However, showing the leadership required to support your employees can have a tangible impact. The PwC report outlines the outcomes the seven strategies below have on people with a mental health condition.

1. Workplace physical activity programs

Worksite physical activity programs have been shown to reduce the risk of absenteeism and depression. The PwC study shows that such an activity has a positive impact on those experiencing anxiety or depression – at either mild, moderate or severe levels.


2. Coaching and mentoring programs

Coaching and mentoring has been shown to have a positive outcome for people who are not experiencing a mental health condition. Through regular meetings, these programs help support people and reduce the risk of a mental health condition setting in by continually setting goals for them to focus on and achieve.


3. Mental health first aid and education

Employees experiencing a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression (either mild, moderate or severe) are found to benefit from this kind of strategy, which teaches workers how to provide initial support to adults who are developing a mental condition or experiencing a mental health crisis. It can provide greater confidence in providing support to others, increase the likelihood of advising people to seek professional help and improve coordination with mental health professionals.


4. Resilience training

This requires a significant investment of time and emotion. However, this action, run by an occupational physician, is beneficial particularly to those not currently experiencing a mental health condition by reducing their depressive symptoms and also reducing intentions to retire early.


5. Return-to-work programs

Focusing on sessions to understand the causes of workplace stress and to develop practical strategies to manage stress in the workplace, this strategy has been found to have a positive impact on those experiencing either a moderate or severe mental health condition – anxiety or substance use. Such a strategy is less likely to be offered to someone with a mild condition.


6. Wellbeing checks

This strategy is particularly effective for those with a substance use condition, as it addresses attitudes that could lead to mental health conditions. Through 10 hours of supervisory training, a workshop to clarify issues and guidelines, and a peer-to-peer program, this helps reduce absenteeism and also improve productivity.


7. Encouraging employee involvement

This has a significant impact on employees experiencing an affective mental health condition or anxiety, including mild, moderate and severe levels. The strategy delivers benefits as the administering of a survey to all workers can then allow the employer to use the results to target particular issues which may impact the mental health of the workforce.


Create better workplace health: register with Heads Up

To find out how to implement these seven support strategies in your workplace, register for Heads Up, a joint initiative of Beyond Blue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (MHWA).

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.


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