Workplace mental health strategies to be the new norm post COVID-19

When you think of the countless policies in place at work to keep you physically safe – you could probably reel off quite a few.

To ensure we sit correctly in our chairs, one to make sure we know what to do in an emergency and even one to ensure we know how to leave the building safely in the event of a fire.

Surprisingly lacking are policies and systems to protect our mental health at work.

Businesses have legal duties under Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to ensure the health and safety of workers including psychological health, as the legislation defines ’health’ as both physical and psychological.

More than just legal obligations and obvious social responsibility, fostering positive mental health and wellbeing makes good business sense.

Benefits of making workplace wellbeing part of daily business.

Research shows mentally healthy workplaces:    

  • Benefit your bottom line through increased productivity
  • Savings from less absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Attract and keep top talent
  • Have more committed and engaged workers
  • Have fewer injury claims

Embedding wellbeing into your operations doesn’t have to be time intensive or costly. In fact, the benefits outweigh the cost.

Research shows that every $1 spent to improve mental health at work can achieve returns of up to $4 through improved productivity and savings from workers compensation claims. 

Getting started

This all sounds great, right? Where do you begin? There are three main parts to consider; Promoting mental well being and protecting from and addressing mental injury and illness.

Marian Spencer, Director of People and Culture at Black Dog Institute says, “Creating a mentally healthy workplace involves designing work to minimise harm, building resilience through good management and training, and promoting employee well being and belonging.”

“People want to succeed and be well – all you need to do is create the right environment.”

Strategies to take action

Here are some tips to help you build positive mental health and wellbeing initiatives into your day-to-day operations.

Mental health training as part of professional development and induction processes to help reduce stigma, increase understanding and build resilience.

As a high-risk industry for mental illness, family-operated manufacturing, mining, and transport company, Alfabs Group, wanted to develop an internal mental health program.

They registered for the NSW Government funded Managing for Team Wellbeing training with the Black Dog Institute to provide their people leaders with the understanding and skills to design mentally healthier workplaces that support their team members and help them manage their own mental health.

Lisa Lamond, Group People Advisor, Alfabs Group says, “Sometimes training can appeal to a more corporate environment, but the Managing for Team Wellbeing training was practical and relatable, resonating with both our leaders and trades.”

“We have now developed an internal Mental health program called FUSE: Find Out, Understand, Seek and Engage. The Black Dog Institute training is the backbone of the ‘Understand’ phase of the FUSE program.”

“The purpose of the program is to open as many doors (including training, EAP, buddy system) as we can for our people in the hope that they feel comfortable to walk through at least one of them, and get the support they need,” says Lisa Lamond.

Mental health training is a key action to creating a mentally healthy workplace, providing a foundation to reduce stigma, create a supportive workplace culture, and build resilience.

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