World Mental Health Day (Saturday, October 10th) aims to raise public awareness of mental health issues around the world and this years’ campaign encourages people to take ownership of their own mental health and wellbeing. The campaign looks to;

  1. Encourage help seeking behaviour
  2. Reduce the stigma associated with mental illness
  3. Foster connectivity throughout communities

It is estimated that 30 per cent of Australian employees will experience mental health issues at some stage during their working life and it is likely that most managers will supervise someone with a mental health problem at some point during their career. Untreated mental health conditions now cost Australian workplaces $11 billion every year so it’s in everyone’s interest to address them.

To celebrate World Mental Health Day and in turn, promote good mental health in your workplace, there are a number of simple initiatives your workplace can adopt.

1. Open communication

Promoting a culture of performance feedback that encompasses regular one-to-one discussions between managers and employees and encouraging regular team meetings will help create a culture of open communication within the workplace. Encourage employees to discuss problems and help find solutions. It is also important to dispel myths around mental health through company newsletters, posters or forums.

2. Promote the EAP

Ensure employees are aware of your employee assistance program and how to access it if required. Inform employees, at all levels of management of the different services the EAP provides and help move away from the idea that it is just a counseling provider. Your EAP can provide a range of services, training and coaching in addition to counseling services.  Remind them of the confidential nature of the EAP. Include details in internal communications and support days such as World Health Day, R U OK? Day.

3. Put mental health on the agenda

Integrating good health and safety management into all business decisions, policies and procedures is vital for any organisation looking to put mental health on the agenda. Make good mental health in the workplace an objective of the business and put policies in place that will help to achieve this.

4. Be a positive role model

Leaders and managers should be demonstrating a visible, active commitment to mental health in the workplace and promoting the kind of culture that inspires people to do their best. Managers may also like to share their own personal experience of mental health to reassure employees and help put them at ease.

5. Create a positive work culture

Create a supportive work environment that promotes diversity and supports good mental health through a mutual respect for diversity and support for individual strengths and needs. Start to treat mental health like any other illness and encourage staff to maintain a balance between physical, mental and social wellbeing. Promoting flexible work practices such as flexible working hours or working from home can also help build a supportive workplace.

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