Why are businesses and organizations focusing more effort and resources into raising awareness about mental health in the workplace? We take a look at some of the staggering facts that are emerging and the extent of the issue.
- According to SafeWork Australia 690 000 Australians are currently living with severe / complex mental illness. Each person affects at least 5 others directly, whether this be family, friends or work colleagues. This equates to approximately 4 million people dealing with challenges of complex mental illness in Australia today!
- 1 in 5 Australian adults experience some form of mental illness every year.
- Australian businesses lose $10.9 billion each year to mental illness in the workplace.
- Of the 6 million days lost per annum due to absenteeism, 35-40% is due to mental health illness.
The strong messages being conveyed is that people are afraid to speak out about mental health issues, especially at work, for a myriad of reasons:
- They don’t want to lose their jobs or be overlooked for a promotion.
- They feel embarrassed.
- They don’t want to let the rest of their work team down.
- They are in denial that they have a problem.
- They don’t know what to do about it.
Employers are also concerned, in fact only 43% of managers were found to have an understanding of mental illness:
- We are not aware of the problems.
- We don’t know what to do about it.
- We don’t have the means and resources to manage it.
- We don’t have the skills and knowledge to manage it and,
- We don’t want to open a can of worms!
But action must be taken. After all, most of us spend more time at work than we do at home during our working lives (57%). The Western Australian Association for Mental Health reports that anxiety, more than depression or substance abuse, is the greatest cause of mental health illness in the workplace:
- Employees with a positive mood are – 31% more productive; achieve 37% more sales and are 300% more creative in terms of resourcefulness and business acumen.
- A study released by Price Waterhouse Coopers found that that for every dollar spent on successfully implementing an appropriate action, there are on average, $2.30 in benefits to be gained by the organisation.
A Worksafe panel discussion identified 8 parameters that companies can address:
Demand – examine workplace demands such as work load, shift hours, patterns of work etc.
Control – How much control do employees have over their work? Do they have input? Can they make changes? Are they acknowledged?
Support – How do we support our employees?
Relationships – Examine the style of management interaction with employees, are they treated with respect? Are employees made to feel that they are valued? Is there bullying in the workplace? Are people held accountable?
Role – Is there a match between what employees are expected to do and their actual skills. How do we improve their skills?
Change – How is change managed in the company?
Organisational Justice – Are employees treated fairly? No side-lining? No stigmatising?
Recognition and Reward – Are employees given continual feedback? Are accolades granted?
In November 2016 myosh will be launching a Mental Health Wellbeing Module to assist companies with simple and effective tools to manage Workplace Mental Health. Your organizational health depends on the health of your employees. Reduce the stigma and be proactive with the right tools to identify and manage issues before they escalate.