Individuals who suffer from mental health (anxiety, depression and stress) are an economic burden for a business. Mental health impacts employees by significantly reducing their productivity, increasing absenteeism and decreasing their work-related performance. Every year mental illness has a $13 billion direct financial cost to business. Safe Work Australia reports that 92% of serious work-related mental health condition claims are attributed to work-related stress.
The collective impact on the economy of preventing and treating poorly supported mental health is significant. However, the most recent Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing estimated that 65% of people with a 12-month mental health disorder do not access mental health services.
How to support your employees’ mental health.
Supporting mental health in your workplace not only benefits your employees directly but also increases their productivity at work – it’s a win-win situation. Workplaces with poor psychological working conditions accrue 43% more sick days per month. So, how can we make this happen? By prioritising mental health in your workplace and building an internal framework that encourages access to support resources and networks that help prevent their mental health from worsening.
Ignoring or stigmatising mental health has a negative impact on your business. The bottom line is, if your employee doesn’t feel confident to seek help with their mental health then you cannot support them in identifying and accessing the treatment they need to help manage and control it – factors which can be detrimental to your business.
How your organisation can do better.
When designing a mental health program for your workplace it’s not a “tell” approach, rather an “ask” approach. Instead of the traditional top-down method, we believe that codesign is the best way to engage your employees into the process, understand their pain points and create human-centred solutions to ensure relevant and effective outcomes.
- The first step is to develop a policy framework. Having a framework in place acts as a guide for both employers and employees, allowing both parties to navigate mental health in the workplace. You can start by looking at this framework for developing a mental health strategy in the health services, that we developed with Beyond Blue.
- Identify what success looks like. You can look to examples from peers or ask staff directly. It is important to measure both the financial and social outcomes of a successful mental health framework.
- Pilot approaches that sit within your organisational context: You need to codesign programs with staff (not use a cookie cut approach). This is also an opportunity to start to reduce stigma and create a platform for employees to start a conversation and ask for help.
- Launch an internal campaign. Let staff know about what you are doing. An internal brand and champions can support the dissemination of the message and initiatives too.
- Measure and report so that your organisation can improve, iterate and adapt to the changing needs of your employees.
Creating this beneficial change in your business isn’t going to happen overnight.
It’s going to be a journey for your organisation to create a successful health and wellbeing culture. Effective employee mental health support will ensure that your organisation has safety nets in place so that people don’t fall through the cracks. Removing stigma in organisational culture, building leadership through role modelling and putting policy and procedures into place will encourage autonomous behaviour in your employees affected by mental health to tackle their mental health. Your employees will feel valued, supported and stimulated to perform at their best; successes for a good business.