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How do you manage mental health in the workplace?

How do you manage mental health in the workplace? (Last Updated On: October 24, 2017)

Regardless of which state or territory, or the type of industry a business operates in, every employer has an obligation to provide and maintain a safe working environment. This obligation extends to providing a mentally healthy working environment that is without risks to psychological health.

Mental health as a risk in the workplace.

It makes good business sense to maintain a mentally healthy workplace, as there are additional benefits than just complying with obligations, such as increased morale, a positive workplace culture, less absenteeism and higher productivity. Alarmingly, according to a report by Beyond Blue 5 in 10 Australian employees believe their workplace is mentally healthy.

How do employers manage the risk?

The impact of poor mental health among employees is managed like all other workplace safety concerns, following four simple steps outlined below, and in a downloadable infographic.

Identify the hazards.

Methods to identify any risks to mental health:

  • consultation with workers
  • observations, such as deteriorating performance
  • reviewing the data, eg days absent, workers compensation clams

Being able to identify the risks is made easier by knowing some of the factors which can influence an employee’s mental health. Things like their role, clarity over the job, being rewarded, as well as some individual factors which can come from beyond work, eg their home life.

Assessing the risk.

In terms of mental health in the workplace, assessing the risk involves examining things like the workload of staff, time pressure, whether the work is highly repetitive, as well as the working environment itself and how pleasant it is for staff to physically be on the worksite. Assessing the risk can also require an employer to look at things like bullying and harassment, or less obvious factors which may impact an employee’s mental health.

Controlling the risk.

Controlling the environmental, organisational and individual factors impacting mental health should include steps such as maintaining equipment around the office to ensure it is in good working order; implementing programs to encourage mentoring; and can even be as simple as training programs to encourage employees to look to the future of their role.

Review the control measures.

Any effort to control risks to mental health in the workplace needs to be reviewed regularly. Employers should review the control measures when a psychological injury occurs, before making a change, or when it becomes clear the control measures are no longer working.

Managing mental health in the workplace is a huge challenge, and relies on a constant process. For advice on how to manage mental health, employers should contact Employsure on 1300 651 415.

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