Create a more mentally healthy workplace

| June 6, 2014

A lot of business owners and managers still believe that mental health at the workplace is not an important issue. Brian Graetz says the Heads Up campaign by beyondblue wants to change that perception and help workplaces to be as mentally healthy as possible.

beyondblue recently launched Heads Up, a joint initiative with the Mentally Health Workplace Alliance (MHWA), to encourage Australian businesses to invest in and focus on promoting good mental health practices and policies in their workplaces.

We believe that business owners and leaders need to take mental health in the workplace just as seriously as they do the physical health and safety of their employees.

Business leaders and bosses can visit our  website to find out what they can do to make their workplaces mental health friendly.

The launch of Heads Up has been accompanied by a major advertising and social media campaign.

In a new Instinct and Reason survey of more than 500 business owners and managers, around half (45%) agreed that workplace mental health is a problem, but not a major cost to the business and almost as many (43%) had the opinion that businesses have more important issues to think about.

Heads Up is trying to change that, and a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has revealed some startling figures about the cost of ignoring mental health in the workplace. In fact, a combination of absenteeism, decreased productivity and compensation claims are costing Australian businesses $10.9 billion a year.

However, the PwC report also outlines the positive outcomes that businesses can achieve if they take action on mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, in the workplace.

The PwC report discovered that for every dollar spent on improving or supporting the mental health of people in the workplace, a business reaps an average return of $2.30. For some industries the average return on investment (ROI) is even higher:

  • The mining industry = $5.70
  • The manufacturing sector = $3.50
  • The construction industry = $2.50
  • The information media and telecommunications industry = $4.20
  • The transport, postal and telecommunications = $4.20.

A survey by Instinct and Reason found that more than seven out of 10 (74%) of leaders surveyed recognised that mental health problems resulted in absence and lost productivity, nine out of 10 (89%) agreed businesses needed support to tackle mental health issues in the workplace and almost as many (84%) agreed that a campaign was needed to raise awareness in the business community.

The PwC report and the Instinct and Reason survey provide a compelling case for businesses to support Heads Up, a campaign to give big and small business alike practical advice about how to give people’s mental health in the workplace a higher priority.

In mid-June, Heads Up will make available on its website a Heads Up Action Plan, which will allow businesses to create tailor-made mental health plans to implement in their workplaces to ensure they are progressing towards workplaces that are as mentally healthy as possible.

Funded by the Department of Health, Heads Up will have a long-lasting impact as it delivers benefits for both employees and employers.