If you're not taking steps to deal with mental health at work, you're losing good people and money

By Georgie Harman

Published on 12-01-2015


Right now, one in five of Australia's workers is likely to be experiencing mental health problems.

Research shows mentally healthy workplaces yield productive, loyal and high-quality teams. Yet we still don’t focus as much on mental health and safety as we do on physical health and safety., an initiative of beyondblue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, can help you develop tailor-made responses to lead your workplace to improved productivity, creativity and performance.

Think about it: one in five of your employees is living with, and at times struggling with, illnesses like depression and anxiety.

Most are able to manage their condition and do their jobs effectively, but some don’t do anything because they’re worried about being seen as weak, they’re embarrassed about not coping, they think they’ll damage their career prospects or they simply don’t recognise the symptoms.

Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate nor bypass people based on their job titles, remuneration, age or gender.

You can’t leave your depression or anxiety at home – it goes with you everywhere, including to work.

And today, seven Australians will die by suicide. I’ve seen too many employers start to focus on mental health at work after a tragedy has occurred. Don’t be the boss who left it too late.

Companies that don’t have policies to look after their staff and make their workplaces mental-health friendly are losing money through absenteeism, lost productivity, poor staff engagement and high turnover, and legal claims.

But if you take action, the benefits can be profound.

Research commissioned by beyondblue in 2014 shows that:

  • every dollar invested in improving mental health returns an average of $2.30
  • nearly three-quarters of Australian employees say a mentally healthy workplace is important when looking for a job
  • 91 per cent of employees believe mental health in the workplace is important, but only 52 per cent believe their workplace is mentally healthy.

Change has to start at the top. If business leaders aren’t committed to creating a mentally healthy workplace, it’s unlikely to happen. is built for businesses of all sizes and is a one-stop shop of practical and evidence-based tips, tools and resources to help you to take action, to build a competitive advantage and a reputation as an employer of choice.

Georgie Harman

CEO, beyondblue