Mental Health Week: 9 October -15 October 2016

Following on from Mental Health Day on 10 October 2016, this week is Mental Health Week.

In addition to a number of different initiatives recently such as “R U OK Day” combined with the social media campaign “It’s Ok to Talk” which targeted men’s mental health awareness online; Mental Health Week further promotes the importance of mental and emotional wellbeing, and further aims to break the stigma associated with mental illness.

While this week is not only aimed at promoting positive mental health in the workplace, it is a great excuse for employers and employees to recognise the effect that a stressful workplace can have on someone’s mental health. At HR Assured, we understand how easy it is to feel stressed, overly consumed, overwhelmed and anxious while at work. An important message coming out of this week’s campaign though, is that while your career and role is really important, it isn’t as important as your own mental and emotional health. Take this week as an excuse to communicate this message to your employees.

While previous campaigns around mental health have succeeded in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety, the stigma around complex mental health (i.e. Bipolar and Schizophrenia) is still evident in Australia. These complex conditions are difficult to understand, partly because they aren’t discussed as openly as depression and anxiety are.

According to the Mental Health Commission in Australia, approximately 690,000 Australians are living with a complex mental health illness. If you consider that for each of those people, there around approximately 4 or 5 others (whether it be family, friends or colleagues) who are affected by those with the illness, it makes it around 4 million Australians affected by complex mental illness each year!

Mental Health Week should be an excuse for you to promote positive mental health in your workplace, and raise awareness of complex mental health conditions. Small business or large business, 1 employee or 10, jumping on board this amazing campaign shouldn’t be put in the “too hard basket.”

What contributes to poor mental health in the workplace?

  • Unreasonable work demands;
  • Poor support from management and supervisors;
  • Lack of role clarity;
  • Low recognition/rewards; and
  • Bullying/harassment and discrimination.

So how can you promote positive mental health in your workplace?

  • Host a staff luncheon for Mental Health Week and run a presentation on the importance of speaking about mental health illnesses openly, and how common they are in Australia;
  • Make mental health an objective of your workplace;
  • Offer your employees EAP (Employee Assistance Programs);
  • Implement policies and practices that have an impact on workplace mental health; and
  • Offer flexible working arrangements.

Positive mental health is something that should continue to be a focus of your business, well past the end of this campaign. For more information, clients should contact the HR Assured team. If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client contact us today for an informal chat.