Deborah Peppard - HR Director
Amie Graham - HR Advisor
Based on numbers alone chances are you will have an employee in your business living with mental illness at any one time. Globally, mental illness is predicted to be the fastest growing and most significant non-communicable disease impacting on the economy, and higher income countries such as Australia are impacted the most.
As a business owner it is your responsibility to ensure you are creating a mentally healthy workplace. Not only to do the right thing by your people but as part of your business strategy so you remain competitive and successful, reduce absenteeism and maintain productivity levels.
Where to first?
A great place to start is by reviewing and addressing risk factors that you have control over in the workplace, such as:
3 Easy Steps
You can’t be totally responsible for the mental health of your employees, but in addition to doing things that you can control such as the points outlined above, you can also undertake a number of steps to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues in your workplace.
Follow these 3 easy steps…
• display posters around the workplace
• professional learning sessions
• correspondence via email outlining the importance of knowledge
2. Increase awareness of people’s responsibilities relating to mental health – provide information about how to look after your own mental health such as:
• e-learning and online training programs (range of Heads Up videos are a great start)
• printed wallet cards with advice or key words
• magnets with emergency contact numbers
• run team workshops
• ensure your managers have a clear understanding of their responsibilities
• encourage walking clubs or mini exercise breaks
• encourage a ‘bring your whole self to work’ mentality where people feel safe to express how they’re feeling or where they are supported when they are experiencing a rough patch
• actively engage in the annual R U OK day
3. Reduce stigma
Stigma is a barrier that is often overlooked or ignored. Unfortunately, there is a stigma around mental health conditions, and they are not as easily understood as physical illnesses such as cancer, heart disease or even having the flu. We can reduce or prevent stigma in the workplace by:
• talking openly about mental health conditions and encourage everyone to do the same
• providing mental health first aid for managers
• running workshops to improve mental health literacy for all employees
• manage all examples of negative talk or vilification with immediacy so you send a clear message it is not acceptable
• create an inclusive culture and encourage staff to come to you or their manager when they hear any disrespectful chat
An important thing to remember is that mental health conditions are like physical illnesses, but they can’t be seen or understood as easily. People dealing with a mental health condition deserve the same respect and support as a person dealing with any type of physical illness or condition. People dealing with mental health conditions can continue to be valued members of your business!
If you need assistance with further information about or guidance with managing an employee with mental health challenges, we are here to help.