It is estimated that 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. In any one year, around one million Australian adults experience depression and more than two million experience anxiety.
While an individual’s mental health condition may have developed outside the workplace, employees spend a significant amount of their life at work. Organisational change, job strain or job dissatisfaction can contribute to the development or worsening of depression and anxiety conditions.
Workplaces that foster good mental health and wellbeing share the following attributes. How does your workplace stack up?
1. Do you have a clear mental health policy?
A policy to promote good mental health through a positive workplace culture is the starting point for action. The policy should be flexible enough to meet the needs of a business, include a clear mission statement and be shaped through input from employees. It should also address the management of mental health conditions in the workplace, as well as concerns such as confidentiality, consultation and training.
2. Do you provide information and training related to mental health?
The stigma surrounding mental health means many people choose not to speak up. Providing information and training for staff in an open manner shows a commitment to equal opportunity in the workplace and sends a message of trust and understanding to people experiencing mental health conditions. Training can include mental health awareness, stress management, anti-bullying and harassment education and communication skills. Further initiatives can include a workplace physical activity program, as well as coaching and mentoring plans.
3. Do you have a positive workplace culture?
While some companies invest in employee perks to improve culture, the beginnings of a positive work environment can be created through open communication, positive and visible leadership, regular feedback and recognition of hard work.
4. Do you celebrate achievements?
Acknowledging and rewarding success can boost morale and increase employee engagement. The celebration of achievement can come in formal and informal ways, from an award ceremony to a team lunch.
5. Do you offer flexible work arrangements?
Flexible workplace policies help alleviate the stress that can come from balancing work and life commitments. Ensuring all essential business needs are met, flexible workplace practices can include variable start and finish times, working from home, discretionary leave and designing jobs to reduce repetitive and monotonous work.
Create better workplace health: 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.
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