The Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace
Australians spend the majority of their waking lives at work, which is why a job is more than just an income. It provides us with a sense of connectedness, structure and purpose and allows us to feel a sense of achievement. According to The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, mental illness costs the Australian economy $20 billion, in loss of productivity and labour participation each year, and is the leading reason for absenteeism. By implementing a few simple steps to break down the stigma of mental health in the workplace, employers can expect to see major changes, resulting in increased employee confidence, reduced staff turnover and stronger team cohesion and relationships (just to name a few)!
How does mental health impact the workplace?
Figures suggest that one in five people in the workplace are suffering from mental health issues. Anxiety, depression and substance abuse being the most common. Problems in the workplace that can lead to mental health problems include:
- Problems with the job itself – High demand yet little control over the work
- Lack of recognition/reward for appropriate effort – Not just regarding pay, but also recognition for job well done
- Job insecurity – If an organization is downsizing, mental health problems can appear among those who have retained their jobs
- Bullying – A major contributor towards mental illness in the workplace
What employees can do?
- Be pro-active and seek to improve your mental health by talking to a GP, colleague, family member or friend
- Manage your stress levels in the workplace by talking to your supervisor and addressing them early
- Find your work-life balance – take regular breaks and don’t be afraid to speak up if you are feeling overwhelmed
- Check in with your co-workers, if you notice a change in their mood or behavior, checking in with them might be the push they’ve needed to start talking about their health.
What can employers do?
The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and Beyond blue have launched the Heads Up Campaign, which actively promotes good mental health and supporting of others in the workplace. Heads Up recognizes the significant role employers play in creating a positive work environment and constructive workplace attitudes. To see some positive changes in your employees, here are a few steps you can implement today:
- Reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace - Encourage open communication to resolve problems and respect people’s differences
- Be open to learning and understanding other’s mental health conditions and experiences – Make employees aware of the resources available to them and encourage them to take action
- Be a positive role model – Promote culture that encourages everyone to do their best
- Speak up – Stamp out any instance of bullying, harassment or discrimination.
For more information about mental health and for a full list of things you, as an employer, can do to promote good mental health, download the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance Guide - HERE
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