Employers Urged to Think About Mental Health
10 January 2012 at 12:54 pm
|Flickr image: Some rights reserved by Simon Aughton|
Employers are being urged to think about how they can better support the mental health of their staff at work, as the costs of failing to act hurt both the individual and the business.
Executive Director of SANE Australia, Barbara Hocking, said “We know that a mentally healthy workplace, that has positive and supportive attitudes to mental illness, is most important in finding and keeping a job.”
However Hocking said its of great concern that most Australians with a mental illness receive little support or understanding in the workplace.
“It’s also worrying to find out that many people with a mental illness don’t believe their manager has an understanding of mental illness,” she said.
There is also an overwhelming economic case as to why its good business to have a supportive workplace. Hocking says research suggesting Australians businesses lose up to $6.5 billion every year by failing to respond appropriately when employees experience mental health problems, and an estimated 18 million absentee days annually are attributable to untreated mental health problems.
Respondents to a recent SANE Australia survey of working life and mental illness overwhelmingly recommended (95%) that employers and managers receive education on mental illness, and how to manage its effects in the workplace.
Mental health issues have recently overtaken physical injury as the cause of the longest absences from work.
SANE Australia produced Mindful Employer, an initiative to promote better workplace mental health.
The program focuses on mental illness awareness training and the skills to work with, and support, an employee who has or is caring for someone with a mental illness. It provides answers to important questions such as what are the signs of a mental health problem, what to do if you are concerned for a colleague or employee, and how to manage reasonable workplace adjustments.
To find out more, visit www.mindfulemployer.org