Mental Health in the WorkplaceConversation Tool Kit to assist in promoting Mental Health in the Workplace

One in five Australian employees report that they have taken time off work due to feeling mentally unwell in the past 12 months (source Beyondblue). Employers must consider the risks of Mental Health in the Workplace and implement appropriate controls.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as ‘a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’. Mental illness can affect anyone, of any age and background. However, with support most people can and do recover. Achieving and maintaining good mental health and wellbeing is important for everyone.

While creating a mentally healthy workplace is everyone’s responsibility, mental health is a leadership issue, and change must start at the top. Business owners and organisational leaders play a critical role in driving policies and practices that promote mental health in the workplace. The process can be started with a simple conversation but frontline managers and supervisors often feel unsure of where to start. WHS Qld offer assistance with some basic information.

While building a mentally healthy workplace makes good business sense, controlling psychological health and safety risks is also a legislative requirement. The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 states that Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) have a duty to ensure the health and safety of workers at the workplace, with health defined as both physical and psychological.

Mental health is everyone’s business. It is estimated that, at any point in time, 1 in 6 working age people will be suffering from mental illness. A further one-sixth of the population will be suffering from symptoms associated with mental ill health, such as worry, sleep problems and fatigue, which, while not meeting criteria for a diagnosed mental illness, will be affecting their ability to function at work. Given the statistics, it is likely that you will come across mental illness in your workplace.

This free toolkit will assist organisations in getting these conversations started.