Mentally Healthier Workplaces Pledge

  • Why Pledge?
  • How it works
  • Take action
  • Resources

Why Pledge?

Making a commitment such as a pledge can promote lasting change for the mental health of Canberrans in the workplace.

Pledging is free and requires only a commitment to develop and submit an action plan that promotes a mentally healthier workplace. Businesses that pledge will be recognised on our online pledge wall and social media posts.


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.

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.

Mentally healthy workers are more likely to:

  •  Be productive
  •  Be engaged in their work
  •  Take less sick leave
  •  Have greater levels of energy and concentration

Additionally, health is closely associated with happiness – by improving the health of your staff, they are more likely to lead happier lives that in turn makes your business a great place to work for everyone.






How it works

What is a mentally healthier workplace?

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.

Mentally healthier workplaces identify risk factors and take appropriate action to minimise their impact on staff.  At the same time, positive factors are promoted to build resilience and protect the wellbeing of staff.  Each workplace will have different risk and protective factors for mental health.

Creating a mentally healthier workplace

Did you know that your mental health is not a fixed state of mind?  It’s fluid and can be affected by factors in the workplace.

Work factors within an employer’s control can impact positively or negatively on staff’s mental fitness.  There are six key actions areas outlined below that can support you to make positive changes for a mentally healthier workplace.  These action areas form the basis of your action plan under the Mentally Healthier Workplaces Pledge:

1    Design jobs to minimise harm
2    Promote positive factors
3    Strengthen resilience
4    Intervene early
5    Support recovery
6    Reduce stigma



Take action

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.

Six Steps

1    Establish leadership commitment and complete your (5 minute) online pledge.*

2    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.

3    Create an action plan that is tailored to your business. An action plan template is available to use as a guide.

4    Submit your action plan for feedback to

5    Review outcomes every 6-12 months (unless an injury occurs or a hazard is reported).

6    Adjust intervention strategies where necessary.

*Once your pledge has been received and approved by Healthier Work, your organisation will be recognised on our Pledge Wall. You will then have three months to complete the online self-assessment (step 2) and create/submit your action plan (steps 3 & 4). Healthier Work will provide you with the support you need on your journey.

Healthier Work will ask you to report on your progress and outcomes after 12 months, prompting you to repeat the steps if you haven’t already. Healthier Work is available to provide you with ongoing assistance, as required.



*Please check back regularly as this webpage is constantly being updated*

Mental health and COVID-19 resources

ACT Health. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19): Mental Health and Wellbeing (accessed 23 March 2020)
Includes tips on maintaining good mental health and tips for those who are in quarantine or isolation.

ACT Health. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for Businesses (accessed 30 March 2020)
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.

Australian Psychological Society. Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for Australians (accessed 23 March 2020)
Includes the following Information Sheets: ‘Maintaining your mental health during social isolation’ and ‘Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety’.

Beyond Blue. Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak (accessed 23 March 2020)
Includes access to the Beyond Blue forums thread: Coping during the coronavirus outbreak through which you can connect with others.

Beyond Blue. Heads up: Work and your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak (accessed 30 March 2020)
A new webpage containing information, tips and links to useful resources to help employees, managers and small business owners impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Headspace. How to cope with stress related to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (accessed 23 March 2020)
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.

Pledge resources

How it works (March 2020)

Key role of leaders (March 2020)

Prevention is better than cure (March 2020)

Road to a mentally healthier workplace (March 2020)

Mental health signs and indicators (March 2020)

Key documents

Australian Human Rights Commission (2010). Workers with mental illness: A practical guide for managers

Safe Work Australia (2019). Work-related psychological health and safety: A systematic approach to meeting your duties. National Guidance Material.

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.

State of Western Australia (2015). Psychologically safe and healthy workplaces: Risk management approach toolkit 

WorkSafe Victoria (2017). Preventing and managing work-related stress: A guidebook for employers.

Key websites and programs

ACT Health. LifeSpan – Integrated Suicide Prevention (accessed March 2020)

Australian Government. National Mental Health Commission (accessed March 2020)

Beyond Blue. Heads Up (accessed March 2020)
Heads Up provides tools for individuals and businesses to create more mentally healthy workplaces.

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)

Future of Work Institute, Curtin University. Thrive at work (accessed March 2020)

Mental Health First Aid Australia (accessed March 2020)

Queensland University of Technology. EMental Health in Practice (accessed March 2020)

SANE Australia (accessed March 2020)