CEO Update - Workplaces have a pivotal role to play in creating a supportive culture around mental health…

Ms. Emily Roser

 CEO Update, Mental Health Australia
 

Speaking frankly...                                       

Workplaces have a pivotal role to play in creating a supportive culture around mental health…

Earlier this month, a journalist at The West Australian newspaper responded to our report on the economics of investment in mental health: Investing to Save. He said increased investment and better support services can only be effective when accompanied by a “supportive workplace and community culture” around mental health. And he’s right.

Regardless of how good and easily accessible mental health services are, stigma - unless addressed - will continue to prevent people talking about their struggles and accessing support.

And nowhere is mental health stigma more prevalent and pernicious than in the workplace. We know that mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces approximately $12.6 billion per year in lost productivity. We also know that workplaces can either foster an environment that promotes help seeking, or they can discourage it.

Much needs to be done in our workplaces to break down stigma and create the supportive culture that makes recovery possible. And it’s not just about improving the bottom line. It’s about improving the mental health of individuals and restoring their capacity to lead full and contributing lives not just as employees; but as parents; family members; carers; friends and fellow community members.

Late last year the Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton took leave to focus on his mental health. This sent a powerful and supportive message to members of the forces that will hopefully empower others to recognise when they are struggling, and to talk openly and authentically about their own experiences in what is a very stressful and demanding line of work.

Ashton’s example demonstrates the critical role that leaders within organisations play in influencing workplace culture. Not only that. It shows that if unhealthy attitudes to mental illness can be turned on their head in an institution like Victoria Police - an institution built on the physical and emotional endurance of its members, on the denial of vulnerability - surely these attitudes can be turned on their head in any workplace.   

Our own workplaces - organisations working in mental health - are by no means immune from these challenges. We are often trying to do so much with so little, against resistance that is so strong, and with expectation that is so high. We must find ways of leading by example, of “being the change that we seek”.  We will surely make mistakes, but we must find ways of overcoming barriers that perpetuate unhelpful behaviours and attitudes.

Earlier this week I attended a meeting of the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance which brings together mental health advocates and representatives from business and government to drive change in workplace culture. This was an opportunity to explore further the implications for Australian workplaces of the broader societal shift we are seeing towards a more positive and supportive view of mental illness.

Workers want psychological safety, freedom from stigma and discrimination, and access to help when they need it. Employers want practical tools to gauge the health of their workplaces, practical assistance to implement change, and help to separate quality evidence based-interventions from the snake oil.

As the Investing to Save report demonstrates, it is in the financial interests of both workplaces and the broader economy to protect and preserve employee mental health. Simple strategies such as increased job control and formal therapeutic training would produce a collective $4.6 billion in savings for Australian workplaces.

As the blurred boundary between work life and private life becomes ever more obscured (I am writing this update on my day off…), and as many of us spend up to half our waking hours at work, the focus on workplaces to implement strategies to protect and improve the mental health of Australians will amplify.

Warm regards.


Frank Quinlan

Chief Executive Officer

Next Week 

Next week, I will participate in teleconferences with the Global Coalition on Youth Mental Health and with new CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia, Nieves Murray.

On Wednesday, I will be at Parliament House for some discussions on mental health. Following these, I will attend the first day of the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ANACAD) meeting.

After the second day of the ANACAD meeting on Thursday, I will attend the launch of ReachOut and Mission Australia's report Lifting the weight: understanding young people’s mental health and services needs in regional and remote Australia, also at Parliament House.

 

Mental Health Australia Member Profiles

Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, provides early intervention mental health services to young people age 12-25. Support and assistance focuses on the following core areas: mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services. Headspace centres are located across metropolitan, regional and rural areas of Australia and are there to help young people access health workers, psychologists, social workers, counsellors and other kinds of support.
Website https://headspace.org.au/(link is external)
 

Centacare Catholic Diocese of Ballarat deliver an extensive range of social welfare and outreach services across the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat and the Western District of Victoria. Their services aim to support individuals, families and communities by empowering people to bring about positive change and build community capacity.
Website www.centacareballarat.org.au

 

News

Nation's health report card shows long-term health conditions like mental illness are common

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and Minister for Health, Hon. Greg Hunt MP this week launched Australia's two-yearly report card, Australia’s health 2018. The report showed that while Australia is generally a healthy nation, there are some key areas where we could do better. Although Australians are living longer, smoking less, and 80% of us rate our health as 'good' to 'excellent', the report also showed that half of Australians have a common chronic health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, or cancer.
Read more

$2.1 billion for mental health is NSW

Record investment in mental health services and infrastructure for people living with mental illness, carers and their families was announced in this week's NSW Budget 2018. NSW Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies said this significant increase on last year will ensure the state's mental health services are equipped to "improve the lives of people ... living with mental illness by delivering better care in hospital and making supports available for them in the community".

Read more

Transgender removed as a mental disorder by WHO

The World Health Organisation has released a new version of their International Classification of Diseases (ICD), a globally recognized compendium of medical conditions and diagnoses. This newest version, ICV-11, no longer lists 'Gender Incongruence' as a mental disorder. It is hoped that the new classification will result in stigma reduction, and increased access to services and supports to improve the mental health and wellbeing of gender diverse individuals.

Read more

 

Reminders

NACCHO Launches Ochre Day 2018

To celebrate Mens Health Week, NACCHO has launched its National #OchreDay2018 Mens Health Summit. The summit will take place in August and provide a national forum for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, organisations and community members to learn from Aboriginal male health leaders, discuss issues of concern, share ideas and examine ways to improve ATSI men's health. Register below.

Read more

Consultation now open: NSQHS Standards user guide

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care is seeking feedback on the draft National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards user guide for health services providing care for people with mental health issues. The guide highlights the actions in the NSQHS Standards with high relevance to mental health and provides practical examples from across Australia demonstrating how health services are addressing the mental health needs of consumers. 

Read more

Survey on community mental health services in NSW

The Mental Health Commission of NSW wants to understand what effective community-based mental health services and supports look like to the community. Your survey response will help the Commission develop a set of evidence-based principles for planning, developing and monitoring effective services and supports throughout NSW. Please consider filling in the 10-minute online survey. It will be open until 29 June 2018.

Read more

Red Cross MyTeam App: mental health support in your pocket

MyTeam is a new app co-designed by carers, clinicians and other mental health experts including people with lived experience. The app helps users build and connect with a personalised support team, set and manage goals, and track mood to keep mentally healthy. The app recognises that for people who experience mental health issues, having the right people around can make all the difference in preventing a crisis. Learn more or sign up to test the app via the link below.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention conferences

The 2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference and the 2018 World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference will this year combine to collaborate on solutions that work in suicide prevention for Indigenous people and communities. This combined event recognises that indigenous communities, both nationally and internationally, share common histories and confront similar issues stemming from experiences of colonisation. Conferences take place in Perth from 20 - 23 November 2018.
Read more

2nd Annual NDIS and Mental Health Conference

Early-bird registrations are now open for the Mental Health Victoria and Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA) NDIS & Mental Health Conference in Melbourne on 31 October - 1 November 2018. The event will feature keynote presentations from international and Australian experts, alongside lived experience and service providers presenting on a diverse range of insightful and inspiring topics in mental health.

Read more

Refugee Week 2018: Stand #WithRefugees

Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual event to raise awareness about issues affecting refugees and to celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. The theme for this year is #WithRefugees, and there are still many events happening around Australia this weekend where you can show your support. Click below to find more information or to find an event near you:

Read more

 

© 2017 Mental Health Australia Ltd

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Queens birthday honours, advocacy, Jennifer Westacott, Robyn Kruk, mental health reform