Employer tips to create a mentally healthy workplace
- Tackle the stigma around mental illness– Understand the different conditions and early signs of the onset of mental illness. Reduce the fear in your organisation by investing in mental health awareness training. Programs and services are available to employers to promote mental health awareness in the workplace.
- Talk positively in the workplace about mental illness – With one in five Australians affected by mental illness in any given year1, it is likely you already work with people who have a mental illness. Encourage your organisation to get involved in mental health awareness campaigns, fundraising events and promotions, such as R U OK? Day and Stress Down Day, to create a healthy and inclusive workplace culture.
- Focus on the practical things to help– As with any employee, monitor workloads, employee involvement, the physical environment and the nature of relationships at work to maintain a mentally healthy workplace. You can also identify services and resources for staff to access.
- Develop solutions by listening– Most people who have a mental illness already have their own coping strategies. Be approachable and have an open culture so staff can feel comfortable and confident in discussing their situation or seeking help.
- Support flexibility in the workplace– Adopt healthy and flexible work conditions to encourage work/life balance, such as flexible working hours, so people can work at their best. For some staff, this might mean working from home or in a quiet space in the office occasionally.
- Lead by example– Be a role model for your staff by managing your own wellbeing – manage stress and take time to talk to people.
- Respond to employees’ issues – All staff will have different issues and external pressures that may affect performance occasionally. What is important is how managers respond to each individual’s situation.
- Develop an action plan – If an employee discloses they have a mental illness, work with them to develop an action plan to identify the triggers, early signs, symptoms and responses to situations. This will help to reduce the onset of the illness and minimise the impact.
- National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007