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What's in a mental health policy?

a worker sitting at a laptop with her head in her hand, looking stressed. Icons of time and low battery. An exclamation mark inside a triangle depicting risk. Blue background, WorkPlacePLUS branding.

By Anna Pannuzzo, WorkPlacePLUS

An extended version of this article was originally published in Speak Out Magazine

A workplace mental health policy is an important tool and control measure for preventing mental injury in the workplace and supporting recovery. It provides clear rules and guidance on how a business or organisation manages employee mental health. This could be a stand-alone document or a component of your WHS policy.

The 3 main intentions of a workplace mental health policy are:

  1. To ensure compliance with relevant legislation, e.g., Work Health and Safety laws, privacy laws, the Respect at Work Act 2022, anti-discrimination laws, etc.

  2. To outline your approach to preventing and addressing mental health situations that may be impacted by work related psychosocial risks and hazards.

  3. To provide guidance on supporting employee wellbeing and promoting a mentally healthy workplace culture.

When developing a mental health policy for your workplace, it is a good idea to start with a charter that recognises the importance of a mentally healthy workplace. Your charter could include commitment statements that reflect your organisations values, for example:

• Your commitment to prevention, intervention, recovery and ongoing action

• Your commitment to inclusivity, privacy, education and support

• Your commitment against mental illness stigma, discrimination and victimisation

Another key component of your workplace mental health policy is your strategy. This is the main section of your policy that explains your approach to promoting and maintaining a mentally healthy workplace, including guidance and expectations on how to act in the following scenarios:

• Identifying, assessing and controlling psychosocial hazards

• Responding to disclosure, reporting incidents, investigating incidents

• Mental health emergency management

• Making reasonable adjustments to work

• Returning to work

• Accessing the policy

• Communication and consultation

• Education and training

• Promotion and awareness

• Providing support and resources

• Monitoring, reviewing and improving the strategy

Your workplace mental health policy should also include information on roles and responsibilities, support tools and resources, supporting HR documentation and the relevant HR processes such as risk assessing, incident reporting, making adjustments to working arrangements, making referrals and returning to work.

As with any new or revised workplace policy, it is a good idea to consult with an HR professional who can ensure that your workplace mental health policy accurately reflects your workplace culture and complies with current regulations. It is also important to educate your staff on any new or updated policies and address any questions or concerns they may have.

For more information, please contact us today.


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