Mental Health in the Workplace - Productivity Commission Inquiry

Topics Mental Health

DCA has made a submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the effect of mental health on people’s ability to participate in and prosper in the community and workplace, and the effects it has more generally on our economy and productivity.

Many DCA members are developing initiatives to support and maintain positive mental health outcomes for their employees as well as helping employees with mental health issues continue to participate in, or return to, work. We sought the views of our members on a range of issues.

Key findings:

  • Mental health issues are prevalent in Australian workplaces: 83% of respondents reported that mental health issues were common or very common in their organisation.
  • Stigma is still an issue: Stigma is still perceived to be an issue in workplaces, with no respondents indicating that there was no stigma attached to mental health issues in the workplace. What’s more, almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents indicated that stigma about mental health conditions is common or very common in their workplace.
  • About half of workplaces are prioritising mental health: Over half of respondents (52%) indicated that mental health in the workplace is a priority or high priority for their business.
  • Some organisations are developing a business case for taking action on mental health: Despite strong economic arguments for taking action on mental health, less than half 39% of respondents indicated that their organisation had developed a business case for taking action on mental health.
  • Workplaces are taking action: 62% of organisations have carried out initiatives in the last two years that were focused on mental health in their workplace (61.5%) was significantly lower than in 2014 (87%).
  • Of those respondents who indicated their workplace was not taking action, more than half indicated a lack of resources (27%) or lack of support from upper management (27%).
  • Attributes of a Healthy Workplace: Respondents were most likely to agree that their workplace provided a trusting, fair & respectful culture (58%) and least likely to agree that their workplace sets tasks that can be accomplished successfully in a reasonable time (43%).  


* A more accessible version of this submission will be uploaded shortly.

Our approach 

To prepare this submission DCA surveyed our member organisations. The survey was targetted at employers, managers, diversity and inclusion practitioners and human resources staff and should have taken only around 10 minutes to complete. The survey buillt on DCA’s previous work in this area, as well as focussing on specific questions identified by the Productivity Commission. Part 4 of the survey asked questions from the Productivity Commission’s issues paper. All questions were optional. 

This survey contributed to our submission in two ways:

  1. Updatedthe work that DCA did in 2014 to understand what actions Australian organisations are already undertaking to address mental health in the workplace.
  2. Provided DCA Members with an opportunity to respond to specific questions from the Productivity Commission’s consultation relating to mentally healthy workplaces.

Our Confidentiality Commitment

The survey is anonymous, we are asking only for Industry details to ensure we can present a representative sample of Australian businesses.  DCA is committed to providing a secure and confidential survey process, which allows you to express your views honestly and openly without being identified to DCA, your organisation or anyone in the public domain. Respondent confidentiality is absolutely guaranteed.

The ultimate success of this survey and its outcomes are directly proportionate with the ability of the respondent to provide accurate and uncensored responses without fear of negative repercussions to the individual or the organisation. As such, all respondents will remain anonymous and all data treated in confidence. Only aggregated data will be reported, and responses from completed questionnaires will not be linked to any particular respondent.