How to Build a Mentally Healthy Workplace

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Mental health is no longer an issue that organisations can afford to ignore. A report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) puts the cost of mental health issues in the workplace at a whopping $10.9 billion per year for Australian businesses.

By taking steps to actively promote workplace wellbeing, employers and managers can help safeguard employees, and bring long term benefits to the business. The advantages of a mentally healthy workplace include increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, fewer workers’ compensation claims and a happier, more motivated workforce.

Like the sound of that? Here are six things you can do to help create a mentally healthy workplace.

1.    Increase general awareness around common mental health issues.

Many businesses have started offering training to managers and employees to help them identify those in their teams who may be dealing with mental health issues, so they can support them in a positive manner.

2.    Create a culture where everyone is encouraged to speak up about mental health issues.

Take away the stigma around mental health problems, and your employees will feel more comfortable in seeking help if they are struggling. This will help them overcome their challenges faster, and reduce the level of lost productivity or absenteeism that often results from untreated mental health issues.

3.    Provide support for employees who may be struggling with mental health challenges.

This could come in the form of free telephone or in-person counselling, access to resources, and paid time off. While there is a cost associated with providing support, the PwC report points out that for every dollar spent on taking action, there is $2.30 to be gained in benefits.

4.    Be a role model for positive self-care.

Take regular breaks, demonstrate a healthy work-life balance and encourage your employees to do the same. Avoid creating a culture where employees feel they need to work all hours of day and night and burn themselves out, as this is a significant cause of mental health issues in the workplace.

5.    Encourage respectful communication and interaction between employees.

Bullying is a huge cause of mental health issues in the workplace. By creating a culture of respect and encouraging positive interactions between people, you can help reduce the potential for stress-related mental health issues as a result of harassment or bullying.

6.    Clarify employees’ job descriptions and KPIs.

Uncertainty around roles and responsibilities can be a major source of workplace stress, which can affect mental health. Make sure job descriptions, the scope of work and KPIs are clear and unambiguous.              

Any organisation that wants a productive workforce needs to take steps towards creating a mentally healthy workplace. These tips can help you promote positive mental health in your organisation, and enjoy the long-term benefits of happier and more motivated employees.