Taking care of your mental health at work

October is mental health month and a reminder for us to stop and think about how we, and the people in our lives, are travelling.

Many of us spend one-third of our lives at work, which can have a huge impact on our mental health – in both positive and negative ways. Nearly 1 in 6 Australian workers are experiencing mental ill health right now, and almost 50 per cent of us will experience mental ill health at some stage in our lives. So, if it doesn’t impact you, it is likely to impact someone close to you.

Discussing your mental health

Mental illness is now the leading cause of long-term sickness absence in Australian workplaces, costing the economy up to $12 billion a year. It is important to be aware of the risk factors for mental ill health and know what to look out for in your workplace.

Research from the Black Dog Institute has identified three key risk factors that can contribute to mental health problems at work: occupational uncertainty, lack of value and respect in the workplace, and imbalance in job design. A Black Dog Institute study has also identified a strong link between people experiencing job strain (the combined result of high work pace, intensity, and conflicting demands, coupled with low control or decision-making capacity) and the increased risk of developing a mental illness.

So, what can we do to improve mental health at work? The good news is that there are some simple steps that everyone in the workplace can take to improve mental wellbeing:

  1. Lead change
  2. Create a positive culture and manage risk factors
  3. Raise awareness and educate
  4. Connect to support

Everyone can benefit from a mentally healthy workplace. Mentally healthy workplaces encourage prevention of mental ill-health through good job design, effective consultation and connecting workers to support early to improve their recovery. When workers feel supported, valued and engaged they are more committed to their organisation and doing their best work. It’s good for business too, with a return on investment in mentally healthy workplaces up to $4 for every $1 invested.

Did you know that the NSW Government has FREE mental health training programs available to help your business create a mentally healthy workplace? Find out more and sign up.

The mentalhealthatwork.nsw.gov.au website has some valuable tools and resources for managers and workers to recognise the signs of an unhealthy workplace and learn how to take effective action.

How mentally healthy is your workplace? Take our quick online mental health capability check now.

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