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Workplace management of mental health issues

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In many workplaces across Australia, mental health issues are becoming as widespread an issue as the cold and flu and the mental health of employees is something employers can no longer afford to ignore.

Customer Services Centre Manager, Christina Carras says that for many organisations, mental health concerns are not top of the list of priorities to be managed and addressed, or they fall into the ‘too hard basket’ and are passed from person to person before being forgotten.

“While employers are more aware of mental health issues occurring, there is a significant gap in organisations actually taking the steps to manage and prevent mental health problems in the workplace”, says Ms Carras.

SANE Australia recently undertook a survey in which 95 per cent of respondents reported that their managers needed more education around mental illness and better skills-based training on how to best manage mental health issues in the workplace.

“Managers need to be aware that they are not just dealing with workplace stressors, but stressors in an employee’s home life can have an impact on their functioning at work and must also be managed sensitively by the workplace,” says Ms Carras.

The survey also looked at the quality of workplace relationships and the effect on mental health issues, with supportive relationships found to help prevent the development of a mental health concern, such as depression or anxiety.

In corporate environments it is often hard to identify those suffering from mental health concerns at work, with many workplace cultures and personalities focussed on high performance and achievement that can lead the sufferer to try to conceal their problems.

One of the first steps in managing mental health in the workplace is to improve organisational culture.

“The way in which executive, senior and middle management communicate with their employees can greatly impact on the behaviour and attitude of a person dealing with a mental health concern,

“Organisations with consultative cultures and management teams that encourage, support and develop their staff, tend to cultivate positive relationships and motivate employees to perform well in their roles,

“In these situations, employees feel confident to come forward if they have any issues, including mental health issues, knowing that they will be supported and assisted towards a solution,” says Ms Carras.

Proactively addressing mental health issues requires managers at all levels to continually improve their leadership and management skills to ensure they are consistent with a constructive culture that is open and supportive in managing a mental health issue.

“There are many initiatives, such as the beyondblue Workplace and Workforce program, that employers and managers can get involved with to further develop their skills to prevent, identify and manage mental health issues in the workplace,

“As a starting point, employers and managers need to encourage conversation, check in with their employees on a team and individual basis and take the time to dig a little deeper if they suspect something is affecting them,” says Ms Carras.

 

Some information and statistics from Chartered Secretaries Australia 'Keeping Good Companies, April 2013'

 

Last updated
29 May 2017