At a recent meeting of DCA’s Diversity in the Legal Profession network, we examined ways in which to better manage mental health issues in the workplace. Lawyers are particularly prone to anxiety and depression and some great work has been undertaken to help those in this particular sector.
However, we know that mental illness doesn’t discriminate. While ‘hot spots’ exist in certain industries, it impacts the lives of men and women across all sectors, all cultures and all socio-economic groups.
At any one time three million Australians are managing depression and/or anxiety, which equates to around one in five employees with poor mental health. PwC research found that this costs Australian businesses around $11 billion predominantly in absenteeism and lost productivity or ‘presenteeism’.
But the good news is that for every $1 invested in effective mental health initiatives there is a return of $2.30.
Here are five recommendations for building mentally healthy workplaces that came from the discussion at the network:
- Handle physical and mental health as equally important concerns
- Proactively work towards maintaining a healthy team and consider how job design can minimise or contribute to anxiety and depression
- Provide appropriate resources and support for managing mental illness
- Create awareness and understanding of mental health
- Remove the stigma associated with mental illness.