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Mental health in the workplace

Mental health in the workplace (Last Updated On: November 18, 2016)

October is Mental Health Awareness Month and World Mental Health Day is happening on October 10. With this in mind it is a great incentive for employers to learn the best way to manage mental illness within their workplace.

It is highly likely that as an employer, you will experience a worker with a mental health issue as it is far more common than many people realise.

On average 45% of Australians aged between 16 and 85 will experience a mental illness at one point in their lives, whilst one in five Australia adults will experience mental illness in any given year.

Considering that 60% of employees’ waking hours are spent at work, it is important to know the best way to handle mental health within your workplace. An unhealthy workplace, such as a workplace which is mentally draining or stressful, can contribute to the development of mental illness.

The many ways mental illness can affect your workplace include:

  • 3.2 days per worker on average are lost each year due to workplace stress
  • Stress related workers compensation claims have more than doubled in recent years and now cost more than $10 billion each year
  • A recent survey of 5,000 workers within Australia has shown that 25% of workers take time off each year due to stress
  • Research shows that Australian businesses lose over $6.5 billion each year as a result of failure to provide early treatment or intervention for employees experiencing mental illness

All employers are obliged to take the appropriate steps to help minimise health and safety risks within your workplace. These can include:

  • Encourage better work methods or arrangements, including use of leave entitlements
  • Provide workers suffering from mental illness the choice of flexible working arrangements
  • Make changes to the workplace or work-related premises, equipment or facilities
  • Monitor or adjust the employee’s workload

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 an employer is obligated to (as far as reasonably practicable):

  • Provide and maintain a work environment without risk to health and safety
  • Provide and maintain safe systems of work
  • Monitor the health of workers and workplace
  • Consult with your workers on health and safety matters
  • Provide information, training, instruction and supervision so that your employees can safely perform their work

Employsure knows that employees with a better mental state and healthier outlook are much more likely to be productive. Encouraging mental health educational programs, training and health awareness in your workplace is a great way to ensure you have a supportive work environment. Employsure can work with you to develop and implement mental health strategies tailored to your business, so give us a call today on 1300 651 415.

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