Mental health in the workplace is fast becoming an important issue for managers and supervisors, and can be a challenging topic to manage. In Australia, it is estimated that one in five employees will be suffering from some form of mental health issue, which is often associated with high personal and economic costs; in fact, it is one of the main reasons for reduced work performance, absenteeism and presenteeism. Poor mental health in the workplace is too significant to ignore.
Consider these questions to determine how mentally healthy your workplace really is:
Does you workplace:
- Have a detailed, promoted and enforced Mental Health Policy in place?
- Have senior managers who are actively involved in mental health promotion, encouraging a good level of workplace communication around psychological health and safety promotion?
- Include mental health resources and educational materials in the staff recruitment and induction process?
- Provide mental health education and first aid training to employees to increase awareness of mental health issues, reduce stigma and better overall mental health?
- Support and promote mental health related events such as R U OK? Day, Mental Health Awareness Month?
- Encourage flexibility such as: flexible start/finish times, flexible days, rostered days off, work-from-home, or job sharing)?
- Encourage employee participation in decision making and problem solving?
- Have and enforce anti-bullying policies which are specific, and detail guidelines for managers on their role in countering bullying?
- Effectively and inclusively explain workplace changes and/or restructures to employees, encouraging feedback and comments, in order to mitigate negative effects on wellbeing?
- Offer coaching and mentoring sessions and development opportunities, to employees looking to grow themselves and their career?
- Encourage physical activity throughout the working day as well as outside of hours?
- Promote reward structures?
- Conduct regular wellbeing checks to identify symptoms of poor mental health and facilitate early treatment?
- Provide and promote Employee Assistance Programs and/or workplace counselling services?
- Offer resilience programs such as stress training or cognitive behavioural interventions to help employees better manage work-related stress and challenges?
- Provide supervisors and managers with mental health training, tools and resources to assist in employee recovery and mental health management?
- Provide alternate duties or partial sick leave to support employees struggling with mental illness?
- Provide comprehensive Return to Work programs based on cognitive behavioural therapy, customised according to individual needs?
- Regularly conduct employee satisfaction surveys and make changes based on feedback and recommendations?
- Have a high rate of employees taking excessive sick days?
- Have a history of psychological injury claims?
- Have a history of high staff turnover?
How did your workplace do? If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions (with the exception of questions 20, 21, 22), congratulations it is highly likely that you’re providing employees with a mentally healthy work environment. If you found yourself frequently responding with ‘no’, or if you answered ‘yes’ to questions 20, 21 and 22, then take some of these points on board to implement healthy changes, a positive attitude and approach towards a mentally healthy workplace. Or to have a mental health professional conduct a thorough workplace assessment, and provide you with the best advice and proven mental health strategies and training seminars, contact Work Options.