1 in 5 Australians are affected by mental illness. World Mental Health Day on 10th October reminds us to shed some light on mental health issues that may be affecting the people around us.
Employers and managers play a crucial role in promoting a mentally healthy workplace. 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, and remind staff about the available support resources, such as an 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.
Employers also have a formal responsibility to address mental health issues in the workplace under various employment based legislation:
Workplace Health & Safety (WH&S)
Steps must be taken to ensure that the working environment does not harm mental health or worsen an existing condition.
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
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.
Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
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.
If you or someone you know is in need of immediate assistance, click here for 24/7 crisis services within Australia.
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.