1 in 5 Australians are affected by mental illness, and workplace stress is becoming widely recognised as a major workplace health and safety risk factor. Under various employment-based legislation, employers have a formal responsibility to ensure that the working environment does not cause psychological or physical injury or worsen an existing condition.
Workplace Health & Safety (WH&S)
Steps must be taken to ensure that the working environment does not harm mental health or worsen an existing mental health condition.
Employers must make reasonable adjustments to support people with a disability (including a mental health condition) provided the person is able to fulfil the core requirements of the job.
Reasonable adjustments are changes to a job role or workplace that help someone with a mental health condition to keep working, or return to the workplace if they've taken time off.
An employee’s mental health condition can’t be shared with anyone without their permission, unless there is a direct risk to their health and safety or that of others. This information can only be used for the purposes for which it was disclosed, e.g. arranging “workplace adjustments” to support the employee.
Employers and managers play a crucial role in promoting a mentally healthy workplace and shedding some light on mental health issues that may be affecting colleagues at work. Your teams will naturally look to you for leadership and support, so it is important to know what support resources are available and how to discuss mental health with your staff.
Here are 5 management tips promoting a mentally healthy workplace:
1. Educate yourself and your staff – learn about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, provide training to your managers, and remind staff about the available support resources, such as an employee assistance program. Contact us to learn more about our Mentally Healthy Workplaces training program and our Employee Assistance Program >
2. Ask if everything is OK, and listen – look out for warning signs that something is off, such as mood, lateness, or a drop in performance; act promptly and kind-heartedly to see if that person needs any help.
3. Arrange a workplace adjustment – for a staff member who is struggling, you can work together to negotiate a temporary adjustment of their role or workload, to help them get through their rough patch.
4. Keep the conversation alive - reduce stigma and create a culture of support by discussing mental health regularly, in meetings, newsletters and policy reviews.
5. Lead by example - encourage respectful behaviour by speaking out against gossip; demonstrate healthy work habits, such as taking regular breaks and “switching off” of work emails after hour
A positive, healthy workplace culture promotes mental wellbeing and brings out the best in people’s morale and productivity. Research also shows that a mentally healthy workplace can, on average, result in a positive return on investment.
Do you have the proper skills and resources to nurture the culture of your organisation? WorkPlacePLUS provides integrated human resource services, including coaching and professional training programs, to help you create a mentally healthy workplace.
For more information, please contact us today.