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Does your organisation contribute to the cost of mental health?

There is no doubt mental health is topical.

It is a topic that all managers, supervisors and businesses alike need to consider very carefully for the health and wellbeing of their employees. So, how common are mental health issues and what can we all do to support positive mental health, both in our personal and working lives?

We spoke to Registered Nurse Katie Goor whose career has focused on providing assistance in relation to mental health and wellbeing in a variety of clinical settings, including Metropolitan Health Services and, more recently, the Australian Defence Force.

“Mental health refers to our mental and psychological wellbeing. It influences almost every aspect of our lives and how we think, feel and behave. It is important  we learn being mentally healthy is not just the absence of mental illness, but the promotion of psychological wellbeing that influences our choices and attitudes towards all things in life.”

While 50 per cent of managers believe no-one in their workplace is affected by mental health issues, the Black Dog Institute states that such issues cost Australian businesses $10.9 billion every year in absenteeism, reduced productivity and compensation claims, with one in six working-aged people suffering from mental illness in Australia.

Katie shared four simple tips employers can suggest to employees to encourage positive mental health.

1.     Make time for self-care

Arguably the easiest, yet often forgotten way to improve your mental wellbeing is to take 10 minutes each day to do something for yourself that you enjoy. This could be a hobby, listening to music, reading a book, going for a walk, or even just taking a long hot shower or bath.

2.     Get some sunshine and fresh air

Spending time outdoors is a surefire way to boost Vitamin D levels, ‘feel good’ hormones and achieve a feeling of refreshment from fresh air and sunshine. Enjoying the outdoors can also be great for positive physical health - you’ll get to do your 30 minutes of daily exercise!

3.     Maintain good sleep hygiene

Maintaining a bedtime routine is an easy step towards positive mental wellbeing and is as simple as implementing a consistent time for bed, limiting screen time and practicing self-care/personal hygiene before you head to bed. Slowing your mind down before bed produces melatonin, the body’s natural ‘sleep hormone’ which promotes healthy sleeping habits.

4.     Practice self-awareness

Take a moment to reflect on your day. What have you achieved? What would you like to improve on? What are you grateful for? Reflection can be a great way to wind down before bed and assist in effectively implementing the good sleep hygiene mentioned in tip number three. Taking the time to become self-aware enables you to monitor your habits and mood and can even act as a daily reminder for some of the other activities listed above.

While these tips provide a foundation for promoting positive mental wellbeing to employees, employers must ensure they appropriately fulfill their obligations to provide a physically and mentally healthy workplace. As such, employers may need to implement a variety of additional tools and initiatives to support positive employee mental wellbeing.

In practice, the more open and focused an organisation is around mental wellbeing and ensuring employees are mentally healthy, the more productive employees will be, which in itself will aide in effectively promoting a mentally healthy workplace.

If you or anyone you know needs help, please contact:

  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
  • Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467 

Contact WCA – People & Culture Solutions if you require any assistance with your Culture, Human Resources and/or Industrial Relations requirements on (08) 9383 3293 or admin@wcasolutions.com

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