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5 Ways to Support Mental Health at Work

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

Get proactive with your mental health strategy.

You ask a colleague how they're doing. They smile and say, “Good, thanks!”. But, are they really?

Mental health problems aren't always obvious from the outside. Sometimes, they're not even obvious to the person who's suffering. That's why it's important to take a proactive approach to looking after the mental health of your staff. As this week is Psychology Week 2021, what better time to pause and check in on your company's mental health strategies?

5 must-know facts about mental health in Australia

  • According to Better Health Channel, about 45% of Australian adults will be affected by mental illness at some time in their life.

  • Anxiety, mood disorders (such as depression), and substance use disorders are the most common mental illnesses experienced by Australian adults.

  • 54% of people with mental illness do not access any treatment.

  • In an ABS survey, one in five Australians reported high or very high levels of psychological distress linked to the Covid19 pandemic.

  • Mental illness costs the Australian economy $220 billion a year.

Why mental health matters at work

In the workplace, mental health matters on so many levels. Investing time and resources into an effective mental health strategy leads to benefits like:

  • More engaged employees

  • Improved productivity

  • Reduced employee-related risks and potential liabilities

  • Higher employee retention

  • Improved company reputation

In short – all the good things!

What can you do?

The health and wellness of staff should be a top priority of any organisation. Your staff are an integral asset: they need to be looked after, physically, emotionally, and mentally!

“Mental health interventions should be delivered as part of an integrated health and well-being strategy that covers prevention, early identification, support and rehabilitation.”

That in mind, here are some things you can incorporate into your strategy.

1. Support a healthy work-life balance

Without a healthy work-life balance, people get stressed, overwhelmed, even burned out. It's not just up to the employee to manage this balance: fair work hours, reasonable expectations, and a healthy company culture also contribute.

With the work landscape drastically changed by the pandemic, supporting work-life balance may also mean assisting people with how to create boundaries between work and home and reminding them that self-care isn't just an acceptable indulgence but a crucial part of their well-being.

2. Give recognition and rewards

Let's face it: no one likes to feel unappreciated! Lack of recognition is one of the main reasons people leave their jobs. It undermines people's confidence, lowers their motivation, and takes an emotional toll. Ensuring people are recognised and rewarded for their work is one small and cost-effective way to boost morale and foster better mental health.

3. Implement strong health and safety policies

How are concerns about mental illness reported? Where can people get help? Are staff trained in what to look for? What resources exist to manage issues? Without adequate policies and procedures in place, mental health problems can go unreported or be poorly responded to. Simple policies, like making sure staff receive training in how to identify and report mental health issues, can make a huge difference.

Health Direct have some useful online resources, like this article covering ways to identify mental health problems.

4. Make support available

If you're in Australia, there's a good chance your organisation has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) in place. But how informed are employees about the EAP and what services it gives them access to? Now, more than ever, it's important to make people aware of your EAP so they know to request support when they need it.

5. Make the most of your employee benefits plan

Does your organisation have an employee health benefits plan? As well as proactively looking after the physical health of your employees – via initiatives like free health checks, skin checks, flu vaccinations, classes and activities, and more – your benefits plan can make an unrivalled difference to their mental wellness. For one, let's not forget that physical and mental health and deeply entwined. Caring for one is caring for the other.

On top of that, you can seek out specific offerings that deal directly with improving mental health. For example, mindfulness training and stress-reduction interventions.

If you'd like to find out more about setting up this kind of benefits plan for your staff, please don't hesitate to chat to us! We'd love to answer your questions and explain how, at no cost to your company, a rewarding benefits plan can be implemented.

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