Espresso Martinis and Impact
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
Opinion  |  CareersPeople and culture

Overcoming the hidden cost of mental health stigma: What employers need to know


Thursday, 10th October 2019 at 7:00 am
Bryan McCormick
As a person who spends every day working with employers and job seekers living with mental health conditions, Workways Australia CEO Bryan McCormick explores why employers can no longer afford to keep ignoring the elephant in the room.


Thursday, 10th October 2019
at 7:00 am
Bryan McCormick


0 Comments


FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

 Print
Overcoming the hidden cost of mental health stigma: What employers need to know
Thursday, 10th October 2019 at 7:00 am

As a person who spends every day working with employers and job seekers living with mental health conditions, Workways Australia CEO Bryan McCormick explores why employers can no longer afford to keep ignoring the elephant in the room.

The stigma associated with mental ill-health doesn’t just affect those living with mental health conditions – it affects businesses, too. Ironically, employer fears that hiring people with mental health conditions will add unnecessary costs to their businesses are exposing them to significant financial hits. They are also missing out on some highly sought-after benefits.

One in five Australians are affected by mental illness annually, so it’s safe to say the majority of Australian businesses already employ people with mental ill-health. But thanks to stigma, these conditions regularly go undisclosed. This means that employers are often oblivious to the presence of mental ill-health among their prospective and existing staff and unaware of the hidden costs of not supporting these employees.

Research from Beyond Blue shows that mental health is the issue Australian workers feel most uncomfortable discussing with their managers. A large majority of job seekers and employees feel the need to hide their mental health disability for fear of judgement and discrimination. It’s easy to understand why, when the most common messages that I hear from employers influenced by mental health stigma are: “It will cost too much in absenteeism” and “I can’t afford to have unreliable staff”.

The reality is, stigma around mental health is already costing employers. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), untreated mental health conditions are costing Australian workplaces around $11 billion per year. The majority of these costs relate to absenteeism, presenteeism (reduced productivity at work) and compensation claims. 

Don’t think you can afford to have “unreliable staff?” PwC estimates that there could be an average $2.30 benefit to businesses for every dollar spent on investing in “mentally healthy” workplaces. And let’s not forget the widely acknowledged benefits of hiring people with disability (including people with mental health conditions). These include higher staff engagement and retention, greater productivity, less time off and enhanced brand reputation. 

Employers can no longer afford to ignore the value of embracing diversity and being open and supportive to their staff’s mental health needs. The good news is that there is support available to employers to do so. Through the government-funded Disability Employment Services (DES), businesses can obtain tailored support to build sustainable, inclusive workforces and navigate the various government funding available to businesses.

Today is World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme for Australia is: “Do you see what I see?”. So as a person who spends every day working with employers and job seekers living with mental health conditions, let me take the opportunity to tell you what I see. 

Currently about 40 per cent of participants seeking work through DES list a psychiatric disorder (mental health condition) as their primary disability. The true figure is higher when taking secondary disability and unreported and undiagnosed mental health issues into account. What these people represent is untapped potential. 

With a shrinking workforce and employers increasingly finding it harder to find good staff, not considering people with mental health conditions for roles cuts off 20 per cent of an employer’s potential candidate pool. That doesn’t make business sense.

When employers tackle mental health stigma by taking more inclusive approaches to recruitment and looking after their staff, they are able to better support their workforce and get the best from them. They save money that would have otherwise been lost on undisclosed and unsupported mental health issues. Plus, they benefit from all of the positive flow-on effects of a diverse workforce that I mentioned above. 

When people with mental health conditions enter stable and supportive employment, not only do their lives and the lives of their friends and families improve, but they are actually more likely to see improvements to their mental health. 

What I see are win-win solutions.

 

If you or someone you know is in danger or needs immediate medical attention, please call 000. 

If you are thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis help is available. Call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14.


Bryan McCormick  |  @ProBonoNews

Bryan McCormick is the CEO for disability employment services provider Workways Australia.


Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers?

Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au

Get more stories like this

FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

People experiencing homelessness struggling to navigate the NDIS

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 16th October 2019 at 4:13 pm

The public health issue that’s staring us in the face but being ignored

Tim Costello

Tuesday, 15th October 2019 at 8:17 am

Young Australians witnessing a decline in mental health

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 9th October 2019 at 2:35 pm

Is shared value the key to solving Australia’s mental health crisis?

Maggie Coggan

Tuesday, 8th October 2019 at 8:23 am

POPULAR

Australia is bracing for a tsunami of homeless women

Jan Berriman

Thursday, 10th October 2019 at 7:30 am

People experiencing homelessness struggling to navigate the NDIS

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 16th October 2019 at 4:13 pm

Espresso Martinis and Impact
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!