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October 11, 20180

Why being open to talk about mental health in your organization helps to shape your culture.

By Kerrie Briggs (HR Advisor)

With Queensland Mental Health week now upon us, it is a time to rethink how prepared we are as a business to deal with Mental Health.

A recent survey by the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare estimate that almost half (45%) of individuals in Australia between the ages of 16-85 will experience a mental illness at some time in their life. 1 in 5 (20%) of the population have experienced a common mental illness in the previous 12 months.

Managing and supporting people’s mental health at work is a critical and a growing challenge for businesses. Most people will be affected in some way by mental health either personally of through family or friends, so mental health is a concern for every organisation in Australia.

There are positive business reasons for supporting your employee’s mental health. Workplaces are now responding to employee engagement, flexible working, resilience and talent management leading the way for competitive advantage. Positively managing mental health in your organisation reinforces these approaches and can reap rewards in terms of improved staff morale, improved productivity and quality of work, as well as being culture building and promoting loyalty. A positive, inspiring workplace results in positive mental health. Effectively managing mental health aids in avoiding high costs associated with attendance, injury & illness. With every $1 spent on managing mental health the return on investment is $2.30.

So, as we continue through Mental Health week what can you do as an organisation to encourage employee well-being?

Consider whether your Managers are equipped to have discussions with team members

One thing we often see, when working with different organisations is that there is still some hesitation in being able to discuss mental health and understanding what needs to be done. An employers job is never to fix the issue itself, but to understand it in order to provide support and make amendments to tasks and work design where possible.

Support is critical, but this can only be achieved through active listening and understanding what it is that the team member needs.

There are very effective training courses for Managers and this is something that we recommend be considered.

Proactively support Mental Health Initiatives and communicate these internally

With so many individuals impacted in some way, showing support as a business is critical. It demonstrates an employer’s awareness of Mental Health but also tells employees that there is genuine care and desire to handle these matters sensitively and respectfully.

Queensland Government have released a free Worksafe Mentally Healthy Workplace toolkit full of tips and advice applicable at different levels of your organisation-

Advertise your Employee Assistance Program

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to enhance the emotional, mental and general psychological wellbeing of all employees and some organisations will also include services for immediate family members.

What can you do:

Incorporate details of your EAP providers details in company inductions, advertise their details on notice boards, or in coffee areas around your business so that employees know it’s OK to talk about mental health.

Encourage Exercise

Exercise is a natural endorphin & serotonin booster, two things that make you feel good! Increased endorphins and serotonin can help reduce stress and symptoms of mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.

What can you do:

Encourage exercise as part of your daily work life: have stand up meetings or walking meetings around your local area. Form a companywide walking or running group to meet after work once per week. Repurpose a meeting room one lunch time a week and offer an onsite Yoga or Meditation class, chances are you already have an employee that knows the practice and would love the opportunity to share their knowledge.

Encourage a Healthy Life Style

Diet is just as important to mental health in the same way as it is to physical health.
Healthy living means maintaining a healthy lifestyle and introducing habits that improve your health.

What can you do:

Encourage healthy eating by having a delivery of fresh fruit or healthy snacks to the office once per week. Allocate a wellness ambassador, discover if someone has a general interest in well-being and health and offer them the opportunity to roll our health-based initiatives every month, anything goes!

The key as an organisation is to incorporate positive habits that put mental health on the agenda, so start slow with small incremental changes and start with building on what you already do.

If you need assistance in implementing Mental Health initiatives in your workplace, contact Our HR Team on 1300 168 747 .