Why workplace mental health in Australia is important

 In Employee, Health

Workplace mental health needs to be taken seriously in Australia.

coursedetailsMental health is often used interchangeably with conditions like depression and anxiety. Mental health isn’t about illness. It’s all about wellness.

Working people are more likely to have mental health problems than they realise. The three main threads or disciplinary traditions that have developed workplace interventions to address common mental problems are medicine, psychology, and public health. For the greatest mental health benefits to be realised, workplace mental healthcare intervention must 1) protect mental well-being by reducing risk factors at work for mental disorders; 2) promote mental wellbeing by building the positive aspects of work and worker strengths and capacities; and 3) address any mental health issues among workers regardless of the cause.

A holistic approach to workplace mental well-being combines the strengths and the psychology of medicine, public health, and psychology. It has the potential for optimising both the prevention and management of workplace mental problems.

Australian workers are just as concerned about mental health as they are about a safe and secure workplace. However, many workplaces do not meet their expectations.

How Mental Health Impacts the workplace

Our mental, physical, and emotional health can be affected by work-related issues. Job dissatisfaction and workplace injuries, stress, bullying, discrimination, violence, accidental deaths, and retirement are all common issues. Distress and hardship can also be caused by job loss, retrenchment, or an unexpected loss of income. Work-related stress can be caused by long hours, high workloads, job insecurity, conflict with bosses, or co-workers.

This study shows the immediate phase effects of the pandemic upon the mental health of the Australian adult population. These findings indicate alarmingly high rates of anxiety and depression even in those without a current diagnosis. The recent bushfires that Australia experienced in the months before the pandemic may have contributed to this worsening mental health. However, we did not control for bushfire exposure. The findings indicate that interventions to address the role, social, financial, and role disruptions will have the greatest impact on mental health and well-being in the community, especially for people who already have health conditions.

Mentally ill-health workplaces can cost Australia as much as $39 billion annually in lost productivity and participation. It is imperative that we immediately address the issue at all levels: business, individual, and corporate. While workplace injuries are declining, mental ill-health is increasing. We need to be aware of this and take action to reverse it.

Spending money on mental health services

Employees who have mental illnesses may be disabled and more people are unemployed. It is important to invest additional time and money in finding, training, and onboarding a new employee.

In 2015-16, the total spending on mental health-related services in Australia came to $9.0 billion (or $373 per individual), from both government and non-government sources. Out of the $9.0billion in Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services, $1.2bn was spent ($49 per individual).

Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace

Employers need to recognise work-related stress is a serious health and safety concern. Employers can and should take measures to prevent employees from being subject to excessive stress. We see huge benefits for both employees and the company when our workplaces are mentally healthy.

Increased work performance and productivity. High levels of job satisfaction and psychological well-being are key to our success.

Positive mental health at work can help us deal with the changing roles and responsibilities. It can also help us deal with difficult situations. It allows us to thrive in our jobs, manage stress, and increase our resilience. It allows us to achieve our highest potential.

Good mental health is essential for our ability to thrive. We all know this, and business leaders are now beginning to recognise the importance of workplace wellbeing.

How to make your workplace mentally healthy

You can make your workplace mentally healthy by doing simple things. They don’t need to be difficult or time-consuming. The benefits far outweigh any cost.

Flexible work options

Flexible working arrangements are the best strategy to meet the workplace needs of workers with mental illnesses. Flexible work arrangements can be implemented in many areas, such as working hours, tasks, and location.

Give your employees tools.

Many employees carry a phone with them that is a vital mental health tool. Employers can offer many mental health apps to employees that help with meditation and breathing exercises, as well as tips and tricks for improving sleep quality and creativity.

Early intervention

Encourage employees to seek assistance early. Once the support is in place, you can consider wellbeing checks. Staff can share their mental health knowledge so they can support one another. Staff can access peer support programs.

To Reduce Impact, Treat the Issues

It is always possible to not be able to tell if your employee has mental health resources. Having the right resources available for employees can help them get the help they need quickly. Employees will be happier if they have a range of options to access treatment, whether it is through their benefits plan, a wellness counselor on-staff, online programs, or any combination thereof. This will reduce suffering and improve employee performance.

Last Thoughts

Each organisation has different needs. Employers and employees can work together to find a solution that suits their needs. These resources and actions can be used as a starting point for employees and employers to have open conversations about mental health and create a supportive culture within the organisation. Research shows that companies with a high level of awareness about mental health are more likely to succeed.

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