Mentally healthy workplaces

Creating a mentally healthy workplace

In a mentally healthy workplace:

  • mental health is everyone’s responsibility
  • mental health is considered in every way you do business
  • everyone contributes to a culture where people feel safe and supported to talk about mental health
  • mental health support is tailored for individuals and teams
  • everyone can see you're finding better ways to support worker mental health.

Little steps for great impact

As well as a return on investment of up to four dollars for every dollar spent1, mentally healthy workplaces enjoy:

  • healthier and more engaged workers
  • increased work quality and productivity
  • attracting and keeping good staff
  • a positive workplace culture
  • reduced absenteeism – regularly staying away from work due to feeling mentally unwell
  • reduced presenteeism – being less productive at work due to feeling mentally unwell
  • reduced rehabilitation and workers’ compensation claims costs.

Small business - unique pressures

Small business owners face unique pressures2, such as:

  • feeling pressure to work when sick
  • financial stress due to unpredictable income
  • having multiple responsibilities including feeling responsible for staff
  • challenges in achieving work-life balance
  • working in isolation
  • risk of business failure.

Generally small businesses also have fewer people, resources and time to manage those challenges.

Bullying and violence in the workplace includes verbal and physical behaviours that can lead to psychological and physical injuries. To be safe at work go to for information on bullying and violence.

Why small businesses should be focused on mental health at work

Small business owners and workers experience depression, anxiety and stress at concerning levels, something shown in a variety of research findings, including from Everymind and icare2.  

While time and money pressures can be a challenge for small businesses, there are many quick and cost effective actions that you can take, which can have a positive impact on the lives of your workers and your business bottom-line.

Here are some top tips to improve mental health in small businesses:

More resources for small business

More on this topic:

  • Heads Up - check out these small business tools and resources to help you create a mentally healthy workplace.
  • Business in Mind - is a workplace mental health promotion program with resources designed for small and medium businesses.
  • Watch this small business case study from the Victorian Workplace Mental Wellbeing Collaboration (SuperFriend, VicHealth and WorkSafe Victoria):

Video courtesy of the Victorian Workplace Mental Wellbeing Collaboration, duration 1:25.

For medium and large businesses

Below are some tips and opportunities to improve mental health in medium and large businesses:

More resources for medium and large businesses

More on this topic:

  • Heads Up - check out these tools and resources to help you create a mentally healthy workplace.
  • Watch this Keep Cup case study video from Heads Up.

Video courtesy of beyondblue©, duration: 12:37

How managers can support a mentally healthy workplace

There are many different titles for people leaders – ‘manager’, ‘supervisor’ and ‘team leader’ to name just a few. No matter your title, if workers report to you, you can take small steps every day to create a mentally healthy workplace.

Walk the talk:

  • create opportunities for meaningful conversations about mental health in the workplace
  • show commitment, promote and support mental health and lead by example with healthy behaviours, for example, sensible work hours, respectful communication, eating well and staying physically active
  • promote a positive and inclusive workplace culture – encourage workers to do the same
  • clarify roles and responsibilities
  • identify and effectively manage factors that impact mental health at work
  • consult workers to inform action and keep them in the loop on progress, results and positive changes
  • regularly review actions to make sure they work as intended and make improvements where needed
  • build capacity – offer mental health training and resources to workers and managers to help build awareness, knowledge and skills, and offer work design training to managers
  • connect people to appropriate support services, tools and resources early when needed
  • build positive ways of working that support workers to better manage stress and their work
  • tailor support to the needs of the team, role or individual, and to the type of work they do
  • support recovery at work.

More on this topic:

  • WorkCover QLD - check out practical, tailored steps to create a mentally healthy workplace with this toolkit.
  • LeadingWell- explore case studies, resources and videos to help you create a mentally healthy workplace.
  • NSW Government - in the public sector, read these guidelines to explore the role you play in creating a positive and productive workplace.
  • Heads Up - dive into these comprehensive resources.
How workers can support a mentally healthy workplace

A mentally healthy workplace benefits everyone, even if you don’t have mental ill-health. One in six people in NSW are experiencing mental ill-health right now1; and it’s possible that this could be you or a colleague one day.

A mentally healthy workplace is a good place to work, and everyone has an important role to play. Learn knowledge and skills to better maintain your mental health and wellbeing, and find out how to access support at work if you need it.

How to create a mentally healthy workplace

Taking action across these four areas will help you create a mentally healthy workplace:

Start taking action today

  1. UTS & The University of Sydney, Mentally healthy workplaces: a return-on-investment study, 2017
  2. Everymind & icare, Can digital interventions help improve mental health and reduce mental ill-health in small businesses? 2017