An Open Letter to Australian Employers Regarding Mental Health 

I know you care about your staff. I know that as business owners and employers you are good and decent people who understand your responsibility to ensure your people are kept safe and in a healthy work environment.

I also know, with a heavy heart, that this tends to focus around physical health and the mental health of your staff is often overlooked or considered not to be a priority because ‘it doesn’t affect us here’ or ‘it isn’t relevant for us”’.

Let me share with you what I know:

  • Around 45% of Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime
  • It is estimated that mental health conditions have a substantial impact on Australian workplaces – approximately $11 billion per year, comprising of $4.7 billion in absenteeism, $6.1 billion in presenteeism and $146 million in compensation claims
  • A Health of the Nation report published by the Royal College of General Practitioners found mental health conditions remained the most common reason for patients to visit their GP with two in three GPs saying mental health issues are the most frequent they handle
  • It does affect you and your bottom line, and it is very relevant.  Not addressing and supporting your staff’s mental health is costly.

And aside from the financial cost, the human cost is huge, with the ultimate human cost of loss of life through suicide.

It’s important to understand that when we talk about mental health we’re not just talking about poor mental health or mental illness.  We all have mental health and any expectation you might have that ‘this kind of stuff doesn’t belong in the workplace’ is misguided.  Your full-time workers spend more time in your workplace than they do with their families, whatever is going on for them at home is impacting upon work and vice versa.  Working environments can have both a positive and a negative impact on a person’s mental health and people left unsupported will undoubtedly affect the people around them.

The good news is that you can do something about this, you can protect and maintain employee mental health whilst also protecting your profit, and in fact recent studies show you can improve your profit and productivity by investing in and being proactive about mental health in the workplace.

So, I will sign off with this thought.

Can you really afford not to include mental wellness in your business strategy moving forward, do you really want to be the one who turns a blind eye to the employees that may be struggling right now?

I think not!

 

Tina Winchester

Director of Mental Health – Mentally Well Workplaces

Principal Master Mental Health First Aid Instructor

2019-10-11T08:32:43+00:00