Employers need a Heads Up on workplace mental health

Media releases

Mental health issues common or very common in 86% of organisations

Diversity Council Australia (DCA) has found that mental health issues are prevalent in the workplace and that stigma is still a major issue, despite many employers actively responding to the problem.

In a survey of more than 100 employers from a range of sectors, DCA found 86% of organisations reported mental health issues were common or very common in the workplace. Nearly three quarters of organisations felt that there was still stigma perceived about mental health issues.

This is despite the fact that 86% of organisations had carried out initiatives to address mental health in their workplace and 77% say mental health is a priority for their business.

Key results of organisations surveyed:

  • 86% said that mental health issues were common or very common in their organisation.
  • 77% said that mental health in the workplace is a priority or high priority for their business.
  • 62% have developed a business case around mental health in their organisation or are in the process of developing one.
  • 74% said stigma is commonly or very commonly attached to mental health issues and 49% of those reporting stigma were undertaking strategies to address it.
  • The top mental health initiative reported was preventing bullying in the workplace (97%) and the second top (91%) was providing access to psychological support services e.g. Employee Assistance Programs. The third most popular initiative was promoting work life balance (91%).
  • The least popular initiatives were improving job design to maximise mental health (25%) and improving employment access to people with mental health issues (30%).

Diversity Council Australia CEO Lisa Annese encouraged all organisations to take action and utilise resources available to them to tackle mental health issues at work.

“In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and more than 2 million have anxiety. Untreated mental health conditions cost Australian employers $10.9 billion every year through absenteeism, reduced productivity and compensation claims. Clearly this is not something workplaces can ignore. They must focus not only on building resilience but on actively supporting the range of mental health issues that people may be experiencing at work,” she said.

beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said that headsup.org.au, a one-stop shop of tips, tools and resources, offers range of practical, cost-effective changes that organisations can make to improve mental health in the workplace and address stigma.

“One in five Australian employees are experiencing a mental health difficulty right now, and common conditions like depression and anxiety don't discriminate nor bypass people based on their job titles, age or gender. Seeing this as an integral part of good business contributes to profound benefits in improved productivity, attraction and retention of great staff and profitability,” she said.

Lend Lease Human Resources Director Chris Lamb said his organisation takes mental health seriously and understands the benefits of a mentally health workplace.

“At Lend Lease we are committed to realising a culture of care.  We openly and actively talk about mental health in the workplace and have established a health framework, of which ‘supporting healthier minds’ is a key pillar, to drive our awareness, education and intervention activities.  Our partnerships with beyondblue, Mates in Construction and Mental Health First Aid are pivotal to supporting the wellbeing and mental health of our employees,” he said.

The Business Council of Australia believes that with the right approaches to workplace mental health, businesses can have a significant positive impact on the wellbeing of their people.

Diversity Council Australia, in partnership with beyondblue and the Business Council of Australia is holding a special event focusing on how organisations can improve workplace mental health.

beyondblue will outline the extensive range of free tools and resources available to employers as part of the ‘Heads Up’ initiative. Leading diversity employers, Lend Lease and Ernst & Young, will also discuss leading practices being implemented in each organisation.

Event details

Date: Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Time: Registrations at 9.30am for a 9.45am start. Concludes at 12.30pm (AEDT)
Venue: Lend Lease - The Bond: Lvl 4, 30 Hickson Rd, Millers Point, Sydney

Speakers include:

  • Georgie Harman, Chief Executive Officer - beyondblue
  • Noah Costello, Partner, Advisory - Ernst & Young
  • Chris Lamb, Human Resources Director - Lend Lease
  • Jessica Jeeves, Director Policy, Business in the Community - Business Council of Australia
  • Guy Musgrove, Warrant Officer Class 2 (DCA’s current secondee from the Australian Army).