Are you using these seven strategies to support mental health in your workplace?

Oct 23, 2014

By using some of these seven strategies to support mental health in your workplace, organisations can contribute to their employees’ wellbeing and help achieve business objectives.

It’s evident that positive financial returns on investment (ROI) from these strategies are calculable.

It’s an unavoidable truth that mental health conditions are prevalent in Australian workplaces and represent a significant cost to both organisations and individuals. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, one in five Australians experiences a mental health condition in any given year. While this may not be solely caused by the workplace, the work environment can have a profound impact on employee mental health, in turn impacting a business’s bottom line.

A mental health support plan has proven effective in fostering better employee mental health. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report outlines seven support strategies that will not only improve staff wellbeing and mental health, but also provide a significant ROI. For every dollar spent on successfully implementing an appropriate intervention, there is on average $2.30 in benefits to be gained by an organization. For some industries, the ROI is as high as $5.70.

1. Workplace physical activity programs are based on the positive relationship between exercise and mental health. It’s recommended that workers engage in a fitness program, including at least one hour of exercise with a fitness provider outside of work hours, for 20 weeks.

2. Coaching and mentoring programs are designed to empower workers and reduce levels of depression. Leadership workshops and individual coaching sessions help provide employees with greater information and knowledge, which will allow them to further develop, and give them a greater feeling of worth and value to a business.

3. Mental health first aid and education is implemented as a 12-hour course, delivered twice a year to some 30 per cent of staff who volunteer. It is designed to teach workers how to provide initial support to adults who are developing a mental condition or experiencing a mental health crisis.

4. Resilience training involves five half-day sessions, run by an occupational physician, to train small groups in a variety of stress-management skills. This has been found to decrease depressive symptoms and reduce intentions to retire early.

5. Return-to-work programs look at causes of workplace stress and develop coping strategies. These programs are particularly useful for the 5 per cent of workers who take a long leave of absence, often due to mental health conditions.

6. Wellbeing checks have been shown to decrease absenteeism and also improve productivity among employees who may have been experiencing a mental health condition previously. Wellbeing programs can include group activities, health assessments, ensuring a better work/life balance, training, one-on-one coaching, and even providing fresh fruit in the office.

7. Encouraging employee involvement by conducting a survey among employees a company can assess where their business stands in terms of a healthy and happy work environment. The survey allows the employer to target specific issues that need addressing, and consider introducing programs that have proven to improve not just mental health but also reduce absenteeism.

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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