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Mentally healthy workplaces make better business for all


11 October 2021

As Mental Health Week kicks off, Queenslanders are urged to take time to focus on their mental wellbeing, while employers are asked to make their staff’s mental health a priority.

Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Tony James said providing a mentally healthy work environment was an increasing priority for businesses and governments, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A recent Australian study found COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the mental health of supervisors and workers in many industries,” Mr James said.

“The study revealed 38 per cent of supervisors and 27 per cent of workers reported feeling mentally unwell in the last 12 months, with 53 per cent and 45 per cent respectively saying the negative change was directly due to COVID-19.

“That’s why the Queensland Government is working particularly closely with employers and workers across the state to target mental health issues in the workplace.

“We are living and working in unprecedented times where staying connected is paramount. Mental Health Week puts the spotlight on what we can do to ensure the health and wellbeing of our workforce.”

To help promote the week this year, Olympic legend Hayley Lewis is on board to lend her voice to a topic she is extremely passionate about. Hayley has actively pushed for better mental health awareness since her sister took her own life in 2004.

“We noticed that she was a little bit down, like we all can feel at times, but didn’t understand just how deep that went,” Hayley said.

“Since then, I have realised how important mental health really is and what we can do about it.

“Mental health impacts everything and everyone. Sadly, we don’t realise just how much it does until we suffer or experience a tragedy.”

Aside from the devasting personal cost, poor mental health often leads to loss in productivity and can impact a business’s bottom line. Across the country, more than half a billion dollars is paid in workers' compensation annually for mental health conditions where claims are more costly and last longer than claims for physical injuries.

Mr James said Hayley would lead a webinar session later in October on the legal landscape for psychologically healthy workplaces, as well as a Facebook Live discussion on Friday 15 October with people who are doing great things to create mentally healthy workplaces.

“Mental Health Week promotes the importance of mental health and wellbeing and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness,” he said.

“Other highlights this year include the Mental Health Forum on Monday 11 October, the Work-related violence and aggression in the workplace webinar on Wednesday 13 October and the Creating mentally safe workplaces workshop the following day.”

Mr James said it was easy for workplaces to get involved in Mental Health Week, either online at the official events or by checking out the Heads up toolbox talks on how to get a mental health conversation started in your workplace.

Download the Mentally healthy workplaces toolkit and other safety and prevention information and resources to help take positive steps towards a mentally healthy workplace, or check out the People at Work tool, a free online psychosocial risk assessment.

Hayley Lewis
Former Olympian now Mental Health champion Hayley Lewis.

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