Top takeaways on workplace mental health

Wed 12 September 2018

The Hon. Julia Gillard speaks at a lectern. The screen behind her says 'Anna McPhee Memorial Oration on Diversity and Inclusion'.

Image: The Hon. Julia Gillard addresses the audience. 

There were plenty of useful takeaways from Diversity Council Australia’s (DCA) recent event, the Anna McPhee Memorial Oration on Diversity and Inclusion in 2018.

Delivered by The Hon. Julia Gillard AC, Chair of beyondblue and former Prime Minister, and sponsored by Lendlease, this year’s Oration called on business leaders to see workplace mental health in the same way as any other key business initiative.

‘Creating a mentally healthy workplace is no different to other key business improvement projects – it requires a clear strategy, unwavering leadership, adequate resourcing, an action plan and KPIs, and a culture of continuous review and improvement,’ said Ms Gillard.

DCA CEO Lisa Annese, who was recently named one of The Australian Financial Review's 100 Women of Influence for 2018, said everyone in the workforce has a role to play to ensure greater workplace inclusion of people experiencing mental health conditions. She said:

‘Our role as leaders, employers and colleagues is to make sure we create and foster work environments that are inclusive, holistic and psychologically safe.’

Did you know that almost one-in-two Australians will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime? It’s statistics like this that make it hard to ignore the far-reaching benefits that come from greater inclusion of people experiencing mental health conditions in the workplace.

Here’s a roundup of more powerful statistics highlighted at the event, as well as key resources to support mental health, wellbeing and inclusion in your organisation.

Statistics on mental health and inclusion

  • 71% of CEOs and senior leaders believed they were committed to promoting the mental health of their staff. Only 37% of their staff agreed.
  • Replacing one skilled employee is estimated to cost 75% of that person’s annual salary.
  • In Australia, more than 200 people, every day, feel so desperate they attempt to end their own lives.

Resources to support mentally healthy workplaces

Heads Up tools to create mentally healthy workplaces

Heads Up is all about giving individuals and businesses the tools to create more mentally healthy workplaces. Developed by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and beyondblue, Heads Up encourages everyone in the workplace to play their part in creating a mentally healthy working environment, take care of their own mental health, and look out for their colleagues. It provides resources about why mental health matters, legal rights and responsibilities and strategies for healthy workplaces.

R U OK? confident conversations at work

R U OK?’s mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. It supports employers and individuals to contribute to a culture where people feel confident asking and answering the simple but important question: Are you okay? R U OK? at work is a suite of resources and practical guidance to help you navigate a conversation with someone you’re worried about in the workplace.

Safe Work Australia guidance on work-related psychological health and safety

Safe Work Australia (SWA) works with government, industry and business to improve health and safety at work for all Australians. SWA’s Work-related psychological health and safety: A systematic approach to meeting your duties provides national guidance and a step-by-step process for managing psychological injury, intervening early and for taking preventative action to prevent your workers becoming ill or sustaining a psychological injury.

Black Dog Institute resources for workplace wellbeing

The Black Dog Institute is dedicated to understanding, preventing and treating mental illness. It provides information and resources to create mentally healthy workplaces, as well as advice and tools to support general wellbeing and self-care.

South Australian Mental Health Commission anti-stigmatisation video

The South Australian Mental Health Commission produced a video as part of its anti-stigmatisation campaign, which discusses how diversity enriches workplaces and why we need to stop filtering out people with mental illness. The video features Sarah K Reece, who said, “We tend to think it’s an ‘either-or’ deal. You create a workplace that is highly profitable, or you go the social responsibility route and you look after all the vulnerable people. Rubbish. Research doesn’t back that. You invest in your workplace, you look after your people, they look after you.”

Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance evidence for success

The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance is a national approach by business, community and government to encourage Australian workplaces to become mentally healthy for the benefit of the whole community and businesses, big and small. A central piece of work conducted for the Alliance is an Australian-first review of the research around workplace mental health. Developing a Mentally Healthy Workplace: A review of the literature, produced by the University of New South Wales and the Black Dog Institute, identifies six key success factors for a creating a mentally healthy workplace and suggests a five-step process for embedding them.

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