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Mental Health in the Workplace

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In Australia, it's estimated that 45 per cent of people will battle a mental health condition in their lifetime. In the last 12 months, 1 in 5 employees in your organisation will have experienced poor mental health.

Sadly, even though much has been done in the mental health space in workplaces in recent times, there is still much to do.

What can your team do to create a mentally healthy workplace? A place where people can work smart, contribute their best effort, be recognised for what they do, and still go home at the end of the day with energy to be present and happy with their loved ones?

Learning from direct experience

At West Recruitment, we recently had the pleasure of listening to a fascinating presentation by George Laggis on this very topic. George is a chartered accountant with over 25 years’ experience in the corporate world. He plays an active lead role in driving his current workplace’s wellbeing agenda and is also a volunteer Speaker for beyondblue.

George definitely knows his stuff, precisely because he has lived with mental illness. He became a beyondblue speaker to share his experience and in doing so, normalise mental illness, reduce stigma and raise awareness.

Here are some of his important takeaways to help you nurture positive mental health and wellbeing in your workplace.

Building resilience is key

A strong mind is the best antidote to developing mental illness. Resilience is all about our ability to deal with challenges and workday stresses, and effectively ‘bounce back’ and ‘bounce forward’ from them.

Helping your employees build their resilience stores is a great way to reduce the impact of work setbacks and stressors on their mental health. Here are some tips to assist them in developing this vital skill:

  • Keep active, eat healthy foods & get enough sleep
  • Focus on your strengths
  • Connect with family and friends
  • Be self-aware (understand what situations are particularly stressful for you)
  • Practise gratitude (take time each day to be thankful for the positive things in your life)
  • Ask for help when you need it (be vulnerable)
  • Focus on switching off (during lunchtimes & especially after work)
  • Accept what you can’t change or control

The business benefits of being a mentally healthy organisation

Healthy people are productive. Ensuring your employees are mentally fit for work benefits everyone, including your business.

George says he sees mentally well organisations enjoy:

  • A high level of staff morale & engagement
  • Improved productivity
  • Low staff turnover
  • Increased instances of positive employee relationships (with the added bonus of fewer conflicts & complaints!)

Aside from the above, fostering good mental health in your organisation positively impacts on your brand, making you an employer of choice.

Ways to cultivate a mentally healthy organisation

Mentally healthy organisations don’t just look after those that are struggling. They actively support all employees and in doing so, can prevent mental ill health from occurring in the first place. 

There are an abundance of ways to create a mentally-well company, but the first and perhaps most important is to develop a culture of openness about the topic. Employees should feel they can be honest about their feelings at any time, without fear of repercussions or stigmatisation.

As organisations, we are good at supporting staff who are struggling. This is usually by offering EAP services. However, in order to ensure positive mental health in the workplace, your strategy should be one of promotionprevention and support. These can be readily applied to the workplace.

How they might look in yours:

  • Promotion about your wellbeing strategy (see next section for more on that) and training and education of all your leaders and staff
  • Preventative measures such as workload management,all staff being clear on what is expected of them or introducing flexibility around work hours
  • Support programs such as access to individual or group counselling and building organisational and individual resilience

Developing your wellbeing strategy

George is a big advocate of developing and instituting a company wellbeing strategy. This comprehensive policy should treat physical and mental wellness in the same way, i.e. if an employee injures themselves at work, you’d pull all stops to help them. Mental illness should be treated in exactly the same way.

For a wellbeing strategy to be effective it must have:

  • Full leadership commitment
  • Employee participation based on a collaborative approach
  • Start small & grow (change doesn’t happen overnight)
  • Become embedded in your business DNA/culture
  • Have built-in psychological support mechanisms
  • Offer employees growth opportunities (personal & professional)
  • Be communicated regularly to all staff

These are just some of the insights George provided to help businesses become mentally healthy organisations.

George is due to speak again at our event at The William Inglis Hotel, Warwick Farm.

Location: “Garden Pavilion” Room, The William Inglis Hotel, Governor Macquarie Drive, Warwick Farm, South-West Sydney

Date: Thursday 23rd of May

Time: 7:30 am arrival for breakfast (8 am commencement of presentation should conclude approx.. 9 am)

Registration: To RSVP or for more information contact Nicole Anderson on (02) 9689 8909 or email nicoleanderson@westrecruitment.com.au

If you would like to book a beyondblue speaker for an event, please email speaker@beyondblue.org.au

Also, check out www.headsup.org.au on how to create an action plan to make your workplace mentally healthy and training and resource material.

If you, a colleague or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, please see below details for help:

Immediate Assistance

Emergency Services – 000

Your local GP

Helplines

Lifeline - 13 11 14

Kids Help Line - 1800 55 1800

MensLine Australia - 1300 78 99 78

Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467

beyondblue Support Service - 1300 224 636

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