Workplace mental health a focus for World Mental Health Day
Over the next two months many workplaces around the country will stop and take part in World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September), R U OK? Day (13 September) and World Mental Health Day on 10 October.
We know from research and campaign analysis that promotion of these days helps to reduce stigma and raise awareness. They help to start a conversation and encourage people to talk, and ultimately to seek to professional help if they need it.
Awareness days provide opportunities to bring people together in their work places: their offices, their work sites, their schools, hospitals, farms, playgrounds and more. Together to talk.
For World Mental Health Day last year, more than 500 organisations around Australia engaged with the campaign to help shed a more positive light on mental health for their staff and their community.
From community morning teas to some of the biggest companies in the land getting involved, organisations held events and reached out for information on how best to inform their staff about wellbeing and mental health.
Why? Because workplace mental health is a serious issue, and the huge number of campaigns over the last decade or so have ensured people are more open to starting and having a conversation.
Importantly, these are people who will be unafraid to demand access to quality services when they need them, and who will demand governments prioritise mental health issues when decisions to allocate resources are made.
And why else? Because happy and healthy workers are more productive, no matter the role.
As our 2018 report with KPMG Investing to Save states, interventions in work place mental health could save the nation $4.5 billion dollars.
To drill down a little further on the concept of just how important work place mental health is to the nation, here’s the background to the first recommendation from Investing to Save...
Recommendation 1: Support individuals with mental health issues to gain and maintain employment, and maintain the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce.
How do mental health issues impact our workforce?
The workforce is one of the major primary factors that drive the economy, together with capital infrastructure and natural resources. Almost 12 million Australians - half of the population - are currently in the workforce.
Mental health issues impact on both the labour supply; as those with mental health issues are more likely to be absent from work (often referred to as absenteeism); and the productivity of the workforce; as output per worker is reduced due to mental health issues (or presenteeism).
Both absenteeism and presenteeism reduce output and profitability for workplaces and the industry in which they work. There are also wider flow-on effects to the macro economy from mental illness in the workplace. The labour market is the major conduit through which wider (or indirect) costs of mental health issues manifest as reduced labour participation and productivity result in lower wages, lower economic growth, lower taxation revenue, and higher consumer welfare.
How does being in the workforce impact our mental health and wellbeing?
The relationship between the workplace and mental health issues is endogenous - a two-way street. Improved mental health and wellbeing can lead to better workplace outcomes; similarly, improved workplace outcomes can improve mental health and wellbeing. There is strong evidence that employment has a positive relationship with mental health.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that so many organisations are looking for ways to educate their staff about mental health.
Six weeks out from 10 October and World Mental Health Day, more and more organisations are engaging with the campaign, because more and more business are understanding the link between improved mental health and better workplace outcomes.
Stopping to take part in one of the many suicide prevention or mental health awareness-raising events over the coming months is just a starting point to improved work place mental health, but it’s a really important starting point. Stopping to take part will not magically conjure much needed, high quality services and programs, but it just might bring supporters to the cause.
So if you’re yet to start, or are looking to continue your work in promoting a positive workplace culture around mental health, get involved this World Mental Health Day campaign at www.1010.org.au.
Chief Executive Officer
Mental Health Australia's submission to the National Disability Agreement review
Mental Health Australia recently provided a submission to the Productivity Commission’s review of the National Disability Agreement (NDA). The submission argues that an NDA is required to ensure all governments in Australia commit to, and are held accountable for addressing the support needs of people with psychosocial disability. The submission points out that there are a large number of people who will need psychosocial services outside of the NDIS and that a revised national agreement should provide clarity around the roles and responsibilities of governments to provide services.