You may have read recently about James Packer’s decision to step down from the helm of Crown Resorts citing ‘mental health issues’. This decision appears to have shocked many people primarily because it’s relatively rare for a high-profile business person to admit to feeling ‘stressed’ or ‘anxious’, let alone have the courage to proactively take a break from work because of it. His honesty in acknowledging the strain he is feeling should be applauded as it helps to tackle the stigma so often associated with mental health and work. What’s more, it opens the way for many more open conversations to be had in workplaces up and down the country about good mental health being equally as important as physical health and wellbeing. If you’re a business owner or manager, how well equipped are you for dealing with mental health issues in the workplace and what measures can you put in place to identify when someone needs help?
Developing Better Mental Health Strategies At Work
First of all, it’s important to recognise that almost half of us will suffer from mental ill health at some point in our lives. In fact according to beyondblue’s report: State Of Workplace Mental Health In Australia, one in five Australians have taken time off work in the last 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy. However, in workplaces where the management team does not appear to value mental health, 60% of employees would try to hide their mental health issues from their manager or HR department.
The knock-on effects of this behaviour on absenteeism and productivity are enormous. In fact, the report estimates that the cost of untreated mental health conditions to Australian businesses is approximately $4.7 billion in absenteeism alone so it makes sense to adopt proactive policies and practices for dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.
One such strategy, that we have worked with numerous organisations to implement, could include developing a workplace peer support program and appointing a ‘Peer Support Officer’ or ‘Mental Health First Aid Officer’. The Peer Support Officer receives Mental Health First Aid training which allows them to offer support and accurate information about additional support options to their colleagues and peers. This is a great way to embed a genuine focus on employee mental health and wellbeing in your workplace.
While things are beginning to change when dealing with mental health issues in the workplace in Australia, if you are an employer recognising that good mental health is just as important as good physical health and adopting a policy and system for providing proactive support for your team could make a world of difference.
If you would like to discuss how Head Strong Workplaces can help you to develop a mentally healthy business, give us a call today on 0438 770 850 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.