Myths and facts: how important is a mentally healthy workplace?

Oct 17, 2014

Research from Beyond Blue indicates that Australian business leaders may have a lot to learn about fostering mental health in the workplace. Would you have correctly identified the following facts and myths about mental health in the workplace?

Among the facts and fiction surrounding mental health in the workplace, one key point stands out: most employers need help in tackling the issue. Are you one of them?

A recent Beyond Blue study into Australian employer attitudes to mental health at work shows that while many acknowledge the issue, they either feel ill-equipped to deal with mental health conditions in their workplace or they rank mental health below other issues that influence the financial success of their business.

Fact: mental health conditions can result in absenteeism and presenteeism

Of the employers included in the study, 74 per cent believe mental health conditions are a major cause of employee sickness and absence. Almost three quarters of respondents believe it contributes to lost productivity, and 68 per cent said it is a major cause of workers compensation claims.


Fact: supporting good mental health at work offers substantial benefits

Businesses that promote and support good mental health in their workplace can experience substantial benefits. Not only will they reduce direct and indirect costs from absenteeism, presenteeism and compensation claims, they will also be meeting their legal and ethical obligations to protect employee health and safety. Mentally healthy workplaces are also more productive and experience less staff turnover. Importantly, their employees experience a better quality of life.

Myth: Australian businesses know how to foster good mental health among employees

While the majority of respondents understood the impact of mental health on their business, more than half did not feel well informed about current best-practice mental health policies and practices in the workplace. Most respondents acknowledged that help is required, with 90 per cent agreeing that Australian businesses “need practical support in how to tackle workplace mental health issues".

Myth: a mentally healthy workplace is a nice-to-have, not a business imperative

Among survey respondents, 45 per cent acknowledged that mental health in the workplace is a problem but did not believe it to be a major cost to the business. However, results of a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report on mental health in the workplace show the opposite. The report estimates the cost to Australian business to be approximately $10.9 billion per year. This is a significant cost, yet 43 per cent of the Beyond Blue respondents agreed that "Australian businesses have many more important issues to think about than their employees' mental health".

Get all the facts: register with Heads Up

The cost of mental health conditions in the workplace can be addressed through effective interventions, and Beyond Blue’s Heads Up campaign, a joint initiative of Beyond Blue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (MHWA), aims to support business leaders in implementing workplace programs. 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.



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