Mentally Healthier Workplaces
- Take action
Mental illness is now the leading cause of sickness absence and long-term work incapacity in Australia. Workers compensation claims for stress-related mental disorders have increased to $200 million per annum in Australia.
Beyond these measurable costs are the hidden costs of reduced productivity through presenteeism, high staff turnover and subsequent loss of skills and corporate knowledge, as well as the opportunity costs and reputational risk to business when staff are not able to perform at their best. In addition, mental ill health takes a toll on personal, family and social functioning
A mentally healthier workplace provides a place of work that:
- Prevents harm
- Promotes a positive culture
- Protects staff wellbeing
- Provides support for staff with mental illness.
Money well spent
The bottom line for business is that every dollar spent on evidence-informed interventions to improve mental health and wellbeing brings a return of up to $14 in reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and reduction in compensation claims.
It can also help to create a workforce that is resilient to the challenges of workplace stress, boost staff morale, help to establish an organisation as an employer of choice and ensure that more of your people are doing the best job they can do for more of the time.
The Mentally Healthier Workplaces initiative provides supports and training for ACT businesses and organisations that want to create a mentally healthier environment. We encourage you to incorporate these supports into a 12-month health and wellbeing action plan that will see your workplace recognised by Healthier Work for its commitment to workplace health and wellbeing. See our Recognition Scheme page for more information.
Key action areas
There are six key actions areas that can support you to make positive changes for a mentally healthier workplace:
1 Design jobs to minimise harm
2 Promote positive factors
3 Strengthen resilience
4 Intervene early
5 Support recovery
6 Reduce stigma
A plan of action
This evidence based initiative will help you, over an initial 12 month period, to define and prioritise your pledge goals, identify risk areas, and work through the following six steps to becoming a mentally healthier organisation:
- Establish leadership commitment
- Complete our online self-assessment tool. This will take you approximately 30 minutes and can be completed over as many sessions as needed. A PDF version of the tool is provided for reference purposes only.
- Create an action plan that is tailored to your business. An Action Plan Template is available to use as a guide.
- You can seek feedback on your plan from Healthier Work (email@example.com) and incorporate it into a broader health and wellbeing program that will see your workplaces recognised for its commitment to workplace health and wellbeing. See our Recognition Scheme page for more information.
- Review outcomes every 6-12 months (unless an injury occurs or a hazard is reported).
- Adjust intervention strategies where necessary.
People at Work – a psychological risk assessment tool
Is your workplace interested in using the People at Work risk assessment tool?
People at Work is Australia’s only validated and evidence based psychosocial risk assessment (staff) survey tool, with benchmarking that measures psychosocial hazards and factors.
People at Work can help your workplace comply with your health and safety duties, better manage work-related psychosocial hazards and factors and prevent psychological harm.
Workplaces that use People at Work will have access to:
- the People at Work survey, a psychosocial risk assessment tool that is now available digitally to Australian organisations at no cost
- all materials required to administer and report on the People at Work survey, including access to automated and customised reports, interactive learning modules and resources to assist in implementing a psychosocial risk management approach and evaluating the effectiveness of chosen interventions.
Australian work health and safety regulators have jointly funded People at Work to offer free tools and resources for workplaces. The hazards measured by the People at Work survey are based on decades of research highlighting the factors that influence a worker’s psychological health and safety. The psychosocial hazards are also based on guidance from Safe Work Australia.
Online suicide prevention gatekeeper training
Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) is an online suicide prevention training resource that will equip your staff with the skills to:
- identify warning signs of a suicide crisis
- confidently talk to someone about their suicidal thoughts
- understand how to connect someone to professional care.
The training can be completed in less than 60 minutes.
QPR is available to all individuals in the ACT through the ACT LifeSpan initiative, Capital Health Network and Black Dog Institute. You can complete the training via the Capital Health Network website, here.
Healthier Work offers ACT workplaces free support to promote and implement this training, including draft messages to include in email and newsletter promotions, scripts for staff meetings and creative materials. To access this free support, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Please check back regularly as this webpage is constantly being updated*
Mental health and COVID-19 resources
ACT Health. COVID-19: Mental Health and Wellbeing (accessed 5 July 2021)
Includes tips on maintaining good mental health and tips for those who are in quarantine or isolation.
Australian Psychological Society. Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for Australians (accessed 5 July 2021)
Includes the following Information Sheets: ‘Maintaining your mental health during social isolation’ and ‘Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety’.
Beyond Blue. Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service (accessed 5 July 2021)
Information, advice and strategies to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health during this time.
Headspace. How to cope with stress related to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (accessed 5 July 2021)
Provides information targeted to young Australians, aged 12 to 25.
National Coronavirus Helpline – 1800 020 080
Call this line if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19). The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.
SANE Australia has released advice from one of its Help Centre counsellors on managing nervousness or anxiety around returning to workplaces during COVID. Access the advice here.
ACT Government. COVID-19: Businesses and Work (accessed 5 July 2021)
Includes information for workplaces on your obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, how you can support employees, including working safely from home.
Beyond Blue. Heads up: Work and your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak (accessed 5 July 2021)
Information, tips and links to useful resources to help employees, managers and small business owners impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The National Mental Health Commission, in conjunction with the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, has created a series of evidence-based, easy to use guides to support the mental health and wellbeing of Australian workers and encourage mentally healthy workplaces during COVID-19. Resources have been developed for sole traders, small business, as well as medium to large business. Access these guides here.
Small Business: Beyond Blue has launched a mental health coaching program to support small business owners across Australia. The free NewAccess for Small Business Owners is a six-week program that offers support by trained mental health coaches who have a background in small business. Access it here.
Workplace mental health: key documents, programs and websites
Australian Government. National Mental Health Commission (accessed March 2020)
Australian Human Rights Commission (2010). Workers with mental illness: A practical guide for managers
Beyond Blue. Heads Up (accessed March 2020)
Heads Up provides tools for individuals and businesses to create more mentally healthy workplaces. These include resources specifically for small business.
Black Dog Institute. Workplace mental health & wellbeing programs (accessed March 2020)
Capital Health Network. Mental Health Programs (accessed March 2020)
Comcare. Creating mentally healthy workplaces (accessed March 2020)
Comcare offers free online courses on preventing bullying, harassment and other psychosocial hazards. Access them here.
Future of Work Institute, Curtin University. Thrive at work (accessed March 2020)
Mental Health First Aid Australia (accessed March 2020)
People at Work. Australia’s only (free) validated and evidence based psychosocial risk assessment (staff) survey tool, with benchmarking that measures psychosocial hazards and factors.
Queensland University of Technology. EMHPrac (accessed 5 July 2021)
eMHPrac provides a range of resources including brochures, factsheets, videos, webinars, modules, and more, including the popular Guide to Digital Mental Health Resources. Explore the online library to learn about digital mental health resources and how to use them.
Safe Work Australia (2017). Return to work in psychological claims
Safe Work Australia (2015). Handbook – Principles of Good Work Design
This handbook contains information about the ten principles of good work design and how they can be successfully applied to any workplace, business or industry.
Safe Work Australia and SuperFriend (2018). Taking Action: A best practice framework for the management of psychological claims in the Australian workers’ compensation sector
This framework provides practical and evidence-based guidance to assist workers’ compensation insurers and claims managers to better support workers experiencing psychological illness or who are at risk of developing one.
SANE Australia (accessed March 2020)
State of Western Australia (2015). Psychologically safe and healthy workplaces: Risk management approach toolkit
SuperFriend has released a range of new training and support packages for workplaces, with a focus on leadership and frontline staff. The range of package options is available here.
WorkSafe Victoria (2017). Preventing and managing work-related stress: A guidebook for employers.
Ready to get started?
Between February 2020 and March 2021, Healthier Work implemented WorkSafe ACT's Mentally Healthier Workplaces Pledge. This saw 15 local businesses and organisations take the steps to create a mentally healthier workplace. Check out these workplaces on our Pledge Wall.
This pledge program may have now closed, but you can still follow the steps to creating a mentally healthier workplace. Find out how here!
Healthier Work is here to assist you on your journey. Contact us.