Therese Fitzpatrick, Program leader, Workplace and Workforce at beyondblue, says that ‘organisations and business that promote mental health in the workplace benefit by increased productivity, performance, creativity, staff retention and being perceived as an employer of choice.’
beyondblue defines a mentally healthy workplace as one that protects and promotes mental health and empowers people to seek help for depression and anxiety, for the benefit of the individual, organisation and community.
Having a Mentally Healthy Workplace is about improving the mental health of all employees, while reducing the impact on the workplace of those who are experiencing a mental health condition.
Mental health affects all aspects of a business, from increasing productivity, to improved employee engagement and morale, and the recruitment and retention of staff (particularly in times of skills shortages), through being perceived as an employer of choice.
Individuals who have high-quality jobs, reflected by the nature of the role and the working environment, are more likely to have better mental health. Their family may also benefit from their employment in a positive and supportive work environment.
Employers who promote and support mental health in the workplace have reduced direct and indirect costs, and ensure that their ethical and legal obligations to protect employee health and safety are met.
Communities also benefit from having mentally healthy workplaces through greater levels of social inclusion and economic benefits, such as increased productivity, reduced turnover and lower use of health services and medication.
beyondblue has received government funding to provide free or heavily-subsidised training to improve the mental health of workers across Australia, help reduce male suicide rates and to increase the number of businesses which promote having a mentally healthy workplace.
The highly-successful beyondblue National Workplace Program (NWP) training sessions deliver a range of strategies to help workplaces become mentally healthy. There are five different workshops for people in different roles and at different organisational levels.
The free or subsidised NWP workshops are being funded by the Department of Health and Ageing’s Taking Action to Tackle Suicide strategy.
Any business can apply, but preference will be given to male-dominated workplaces, small to medium enterprises, not-for-profit organisations, unions and businesses in construction, mining, manufacturing and transport. Visit www.beyondblue.org.au/nwp for more information.
beyondblue also has free resources to assist leaders to create mentally healthy workplaces:
- A suite of free eLearning resources has been released recently. These are available on the beyondblue website (www.beyondblue.org.au/workplace).
- Free printed resources can be ordered by visiting the beyondblue website or calling the beyondblue support service on 1300 22 4636.
- The beyondblue support service is open 24 hours a day and now provides short-term solution-focused counselling, web-based chat and the ability for callers to request to speak with a counsellor of the same gender.
- For more information please visit www.beyondblue.org.au/workplace
Therese Fitzpatrick has been a member of the beyondblue Workplace and Workforce Program since 2007, Program Leader since 2011 and is a registered Occupational Therapist. Previously she was a Senior Rehabilitation Consultant, working to assist people with mental health problems, spinal cord injuries and acquired brain impairment, return to work. Therese has worked in the UK in senior occupational therapy positions in neurological rehabilitation, rheumatology and orthopaedics.