Skip to content

How to create a mentally healthy workplace culture and reduce stigma

This webinar examines the prevalence of mental health conditions in the workplace and provides practical information and actions you can use in your organisation.

Presenters Dr Anna Lewis from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Michael O'Hanlon from Beyond Blue and Annika Doyle from Aurecon discuss issues created by the stigma of mental health conditions in the workplace. The presenters also provide actions you can take to create a mentally healthy workplace culture and reduce the stigma in your organisation.

Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 9MB)

How to create a mentally healthy workplace culture and reduce stigma

Good morning and welcome to this webinar on How to create a mentally healthy workplace culture and reduce stigma. This webinar is brought to you by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Office of Industrial Relations.

As you may know Monday October the 10th was World Mental Health Day and this week is Mental Health Week. We're discussing this topic today as mental health conditions are now the main reason Australian workers take extended sick leave or become incapacitated and yet many workers keep it hidden from their employer because they fear their job would be compromised if they revealed their condition.

Stigma stops people asking for help and getting the treatment and support they need and it continues to be a major problem.

During this webinar we're going to cover some simple strategies and actions that you can take to create a mentally healthy workplace culture and reduce stigma.

So my name's Anna Lewis and I'm a Principal Advisor in the Leadership and Culture Unit within Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and I'll be your Facilitator for this session.

I'm joined by a guest presenter Michael O'Hanlon who is the Workplace Engagement Manager for Beyond Blue and Michael will cover some of the practical steps that you can take to include stigma reduction activities within your own business.

We have another guest presenter Annika Doyle who is a Civil Drafter at Aurecon and Annika is going to discuss their award-winning mental health programme that's called Mind Matters.

So as an introduction to this topic I'd like to start by presenting some of the recent data on mental health conditions in Australia and this has been provided to us by Beyond Blue.

So you can see down the bottom of this slide that tragically eight Australians die by suicide every day and this figure is almost two and a half times the national road toll.

One of the key reasons for this statistic is untreated anxiety and depression and as you can see here, approximately two million people are living with anxiety and one million are living with depression.

So these figures relate to all of us as every working day Australians are coming to work bringing their whole selves with them. Therefore the workplace plays an important role in supporting them.

In fact as shown here on the top right you can see that one in five Australian workers are likely to be experiencing poor mental health at any given time. Then the direct financial impact of poor mental health for Australian employers is estimated to be $10.9 billion every year and this is due to absenteeism or time off work, it's due to presenteeism which is when someone's productivity is reduced because they might have actually turned up to work but they're just not able to work to their usual capacity because they're struggling personally, and finally it's also due to compensation claims.

However the good news is that there can be a significant return on investment as a result of taking action to ensure your workplace is mentally healthy and in fact for every $1 invested in effective mental health initiatives or interventions, there's an average return on investment of $2.30.

So mentally health workplaces are more productive, we know that they're more profitable, we also know that they're essential for businesses who truly want to be recognised as an employer of choice.

So we've looked at some of the numbers but what are the actual responsibilities of an employer or person in control of a business or undertaking, or what we call the PCBU and what are the responsibilities of your workers?

Firstly the PCBU has a duty under the Work Health and Safety Act to manage risks resulting in physical or psychological harm whilst the worker has a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and to not adversely affect other people's health and safety.

Of course they also have a duty to comply with workplace health and safety policies and procedures.

In addition to the Workplace Health and Safety Act important federal legislation for managing mental health in the workplace includes the Information or Privacy Act, the Fair Work Act and the Disability Discrimination Act.

However despite the responsibilities of employers and workers the workplace has been described as a breeding ground for stigma associated with mental health conditions. According to the Mental Health Council of Australia, 69 per cent of workers are uncomfortable disclosing their mental health concerns or issues to their employer and 35 per cent say they wouldn't disclose it at all for fear of discrimination or misunderstanding.

It's thought that increasing pressure creates and exacerbates stress and increasing uncertainty encourages a culture of silence.

So what can we do about it? There are actually two effective and fairly simple approaches to reduce stigma associated with mental health conditions and they include contact and education approaches.

So Michael is now going to talk about stigma and these two approaches in more detail.

So thanks very much Michael. I'll now hand over to you.

Thank you Anna and good morning everybody.

In the next 10 minutes I'll just introduce you to the topic of stigma in the workplace, why it is a barrier to improving workplace mental health and give you some insights into the activities you can undertake to remove or break down stigma in your workplace.

If I can just go back to the point that was there a minute ago about poor mental health affecting one in five workers, I'd like to point out that mental health is a very democratic condition and that it can affect anybody in the workplace. It could in fact affect somebody listening today. So what we say today please take it in light of your own mental health.

I'd also like to point out that workers experiencing a mental health condition are still very productive in a workplace. They're not running around with signs on their heads saying 'I've got a mental illness' unlike if you've got a broken leg. Many workers in a workplace are managing their mental health condition and are highly productive. The figures we saw are for people not seeking help and support.

So why is stigma a barrier? What is this thing called 'stigma'?

I thought I'd start with a quote from our blueVoices community of Beyond Blue. This is our reference group of people who've experienced depression or anxiety or their carers.

I think it's very powerful here to see this comment that the stigma of mental illness is in some ways worse than the illness itself and that unless we remove that barrier, any reduction of mental health issues is nothing but a pipe dream. I think that's probably the most powerful way of describing the impact of stigma.

Let's have a look at some types of stigma and I'll just do this at a pretty high level.

There's four general types. One – 'personal stigma' and that's an individual stigmatising attitudes and beliefs about other people. So perhaps 'People with depression should just snap out of it.'

Then there's 'perceived stigma' and that's where a person's beliefs are based around what they perceive are the views that other people might hold. So for example 'Most people believe that a person with depression should just snap out of it, therefore I believe that too.'

The third type of stigma is very powerful – 'self stigma' and they're the views individuals who experience a mental health condition hold about themselves. It can be as simple as 'I just should be able to snap out of my depression.'

'Structural stigma' is the stigma that is built into the policies of private and government institutions or cultural norms that restrict opportunities of people with depression and anxiety such as things like 'Well workplace mental health initiatives aren't as important as other initiatives in the workplace and don't deserve as much funding.'

So let's move on to look at the impact of stigma in a workplace.

Stigma is a fundamental step in promoting mental health and the reason why is that the stigma deters people from seeking assistance, from taking action. We know that if left untreated mental health difficulties can escalate and become more severe which has potential long-lasting consequences not just for the worker but also for the organisation as well.

Fortunately we have some really good research that we can draw on, on strategies for breaking down stigma.

The two key approaches are direct contact and that's where you have direct contact with people who've experienced a mental health condition, are in recovery and that is the most powerful way of breaking down stigma. It's just like you hear about somebody and until you meet them you don't really know who they are and what they're like. It's often the same thing. If you haven't experienced depression or anxiety or a mental health condition, until you hear somebody talking about it and see them and hear them, you don't have a really deep understanding of the impact. It's normalising it.

The second factor is education which is breaking down the barrier to increasing awareness and providing skills and confidence to act.

I'd just like to expand on each of those if I can.

First of all direct contact. The way you can go about encouraging direct contact in your workplace is through inviting people with a personal experience of recovery and management of mental health conditions, self harm or suicide to share their stories in the workplace. So if you can get individuals from within your workplace or your community come in, that is a very powerful way of breaking stigma.

You need to target all levels of the workplace - workers, managers, leaders, provide this locally and regularly and if you can, from people who are in recovery and from a similar occupation.

Now often it's not that easy to get people to come to a workplace. So what Beyond Blue has done is we have a range of personal experience stories on our Heads Up website that I'll refer to in a moment and on our Beyond Blue YouTube channel. You can see there a clip from one of those stories which happens to be a farmer and there are a number of other stories there from a number of different workplaces, different genders and different experiences. So I encourage you to go and have a look at those.

Education is the next way of breaking down stigma in the workplace and that can be as simple as providing information and resources. There's lots of websites, flyers, booklets which challenge inaccurate stereotypes, in other words break down the myths and misinformation around mental health conditions.

You can make those available in the workplace for people to take away. You can make them available through multiple channels if you can, through providing information to staff around available services and supports.

You can also provide mental health literacy training which incorporates the personal experiences of people with mental health conditions to staff, managers and leaders. There are a number of programs out there – Beyond Blue has one, our National Workplace Program. So being informed is a great way of being educated.

Encouraging senior leaders, line managers, shift supervisors to speak openly about mental health in the workplace is also a great way of breaking down stigma.

There also are some positive examples of breaking down education such as promoting events like 'RUOK? Day' which was in September, World Mental Health Day which was Monday this week, the 10th of October and there are a whole lot of activities this week in Mental Health Week that you can get engaged in through your workplace, and fundraising events like Movember which add a light-hearted more engaging approach to the topic.

Regularly update your staff on what the organisation is doing to promote mental health and wellbeing just like you do about any other initiative that's taking place in a workplace. Most of all demonstrate visible, active commitment to mental health in your organisation.

Leadership is an essential element in breaking down stigma. You need to ensure senior leaders actively endorse and participate in activities aimed at reducing stigma, that they show zero tolerance for discrimination against staff, they set very clear expectations of what is not acceptable and they establish a track record of supporting staff with mental health conditions to stay or return to work.

So as the little slide there shows at the bottom, 'A leader is not only one who knows the way but someone who shows the way'. So the walking the talk is very, very important and remember, we're all leaders. Don't wait for someone to step up and show the way. You can all do that.

So what are you going to do about stigma in your workplace? You now know that directly or indirectly mental health conditions will impact most Australians and therefore all workplaces. You now have some insight to how to break down stigma through direct contact and education and you know that many stigma-reduction activities actually cost nothing and simply require the courage to undertake them. Remember that basically good mental health is simply good business.

So I encourage you all to have a look at our website which has a depth and breadth of information around breaking down stigma, around the role of leaders, around how to have a conversation.

So thank you for your time this morning.

Thanks Michael for a great presentation and for providing some really practical strategies that I think all of you could undertake within your own business.

I'd now like to introduce Annika who's going to talk specifically about the actions that her company Aurecon have undertaken to improve mental health within their workplace.

Thanks Anna and thanks Michael for that valuable information.

Hi all. I'm a Civil Engineering Drafter at Aurecon Brisbane. I have been working in the drafting field for around 10 years now.

I became a mental health first aider in 2015 and have been heavily involved with Aurecon's mental health and wellbeing initiatives.

I will try to explain Aurecon's story regarding mental health, why a mental health programme was in need, how it was implemented, the changes that have occurred and what it is like to be on the ground as a mental health first aider.

In this presentation I will refer to our people team at Aurecon which in most organisations are the Human Resources department.

Aurecon have been on their mental health journey for just under two years. We have learnt lessons along the way and continue to learn and develop our systems, support networks and understanding of mental health and also the needs of our staff.

We offer support to our staff during difficult times, educate ourselves and others and in turn reduce any associated stigma.

Aurecon's hope for the future is that at some stage there will be no need for a mental health programme or committee and mental and physical health are managed alongside each other equally.

Our mental health journey began in 2015 as a result of both our people and health and safety teams in ANZ reporting an increase in mental health related issues and queries. These came in the form of line managers seeking advice on how to manage people with mental health issues, employees seeking advice but not wanting to talk to their managers fearing stigma and believing they were ill-equipped to have effective conversations, and also mental health issues coming to the fore during performance discussions.

Our people took this information, did some further research, looked at what other organisations were doing and spoke to Beyond Blue. A business case was then put forward recommending the creation of a mental health programme at Aurecon. You can find a template for a business case like ours on the Heads Up website that Michael has referred to.

This business case was then presented to the ANZ leadership team who fully supported the recommendations.

A committee was formed and Mind Matters was born.

The main objectives of Mind Matters was to raise awareness of mental health issues, help our workforce recognise signs and symptoms of mental health…

…reduce stigma surrounding mental health and educate line managers to identify mental health issues and teach us how to effectively support staff.

Aurecon is a global company of 6,900 employees - 3,200 of them in ANZ. Mind Matters considered what would give us the biggest impact with little cost and few resources for such a large company.

The committee decided the best course of action would be to integrate mental health first aiders directly into the business and implement compulsory line manager mental health awareness sessions.

We had four members of our Mind Matters Committee trained as first aid instructors. These instructors then branched out into the business and ran two-day courses to train volunteer employees as certified mental health first aiders.

This is when I became a mental health first aider.

The course was educational, confronting, eye-opening and for me life changing. It changed the way I interact with colleagues, family members and friends.

We currently have 73 qualified mental health first aiders throughout Australia and New Zealand.

It was immediately after the first aid training that the mental health momentum began. Aurecon began using the contact and educational approaches that Michael spoke of to reduce stigma and create a mentally healthy workplace.

Employees began to start conversations that may have once have been taboo, educating other employees through presentations and safety huddles and listening openly to colleagues who were in need.

I cannot speak on behalf of the other first aiders. I can only speak of my own experiences and since becoming a mental health first aider I have had a number of interactions with colleagues and also concerned line managers seeking advice.

These range in severity. Some were discussions around signs of depression and others were around the worry of suicide, I am thankful to state all of which have had good outcomes.

Some may believe that a simple two-day course as a mental health first aider would not equip an individual with the confidence and tools to be able to deal with these situations and some may believe it is not the place for unqualified persons to be meddling in. I tend to think that sometimes people just need someone to notice them and listen non-judgementally.

I personally have never felt out of my depth and never tried to take the role of a psychologist, psychiatrist or doctor. If the individual may need help we will discuss the options of utilising our EAP and seeking the help of the family doctor.

We are lucky at Aurecon to have such a great people team who are always on hand if we ever feel out of our depth and they are there to offer advice and support.

Although I have had some of the more serious discussions, many of the interactions are just a simple 'Are you okay? You don't seem yourself today.'

The main purpose and responsibility of a mental health first aider is to recognise symptoms of chronic stress or early signs of an illness and open up the conversation or escalate our concern to a member of the people or health and safety team.

We are essentially the eyes and the ears on the floor and just like any physical illness, the earlier the intervention the better the outcome.

I was recently asked how I find the juggle of a full time technical role and the role of a mental health first aider. Sometimes I find the juggle challenging and it takes a conscious effort to look after my own mental health but I find the position immensely rewarding and have found a passion in the area.

After spending around eight hours a day with colleagues they tend to become friends. I would hate to think of my colleagues in a situation where they felt they had nowhere to turn or no one to talk to in a time of need which is why I and others at Aurecon continue to keep mental health at the forefront of conversations.

There have been other benefits to come out of the mental health programme. In Brisbane 12 months ago to the day when Aurecon ANZ focused on mental health and wellbeing for Safe Work Week, the mental health first aiders alongside the Mind Matters Committee began to brainstorm some out-of-the-box ideas to start the conversation.

This was when our partnership with the not for profit organisation MIFQ began. MIFQ stands for Mental Illness Fellowship Queensland.

After attending one of MIFQ's annual art exhibitions at King George Square I decided to approach MIFQ to see if they could assist us at Aurecon Brisbane in holding a mini art exhibition in our office.

This was the beginning of a great partnership between Aurecon and MIFQ.

We set up an art gallery showcasing 38 art works by 13 artists all of which were affected by mental illness in some way. The following weeks' events were held in the art gallery space and all the artworks were for sale. We managed to raise $8,400 through employee purchases which went directly to the artists and $3,000 to MIFQ to further their reach and support in the community.

We found the art gallery opened up conversation and put employees at ease. It was a huge success, so much so that we now have rotating artwork for sale in our reception and innovation space in our Brisbane office.

Some of the other fantastic events held during Safe Work Week in 2015 included a children's colouring in competition.

This was a great initiative and brought the conversation into the family home and to Australia's younger generation who can often be forgotten about when we think of mental health.

We also had a dietician in to discuss healthy breakfast choices, a walk with a mate lunch, yoga sessions and a group bike ride. All of these events placed the importance of a healthy mind and body alongside each other.

Queensland Police gave an interesting and informative presentation on negotiation skills and suicide was the topic of conversation. An Aurecon employee also presented on the recovery work he was heavily involved with during the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011. He discussed the dramatic affect it had on the lives of Aurecon employees and their families and advice on how to deal with the shock.

Safe Work Week's mental health and wellbeing events seemed to give employees the confidence that Aurecon was supportive and understanding of mental health and that was when employees felt comfortable opening up and seeking help and advice.

Aurecon are still developing the Mind Matters programme and journey and are always looking to learn new ways to educate ourselves and others in the hope of one day demobilising the Mind Matters Committee.

Currently the compulsory line manager mental health awareness training is underway for Safe Work Week this year and we will be holding lunch and learns on health and wellbeing for all employees.

Aurecon's achievements regarding mental health have been a result of the commitment and ongoing support from our senior leadership team who understand that a happy workforce is a productive workforce. Mental illness does not discriminate and touches us all and our families. Organisations have a very important role to play in normalising mental health through ongoing discussion, awareness and education.

We at Aurecon were very honoured to have our mental health programme recognised by the Australian Human Resources Institute when Aurecon was announced as the 2015 winner of the AHRI Diversity Award for Mental Health in the Workplace.

Thank you.

Thanks very much Annika. Mind Matters is clearly a really effective intervention within a large scale consulting engineering company.

I also noticed that the slogan on Aurecon's slide is 'bringing ideas to life' and I think Annika's really highlighted how Aurecon has brought to life the ideas and strategies that Michael and I have been talking about.

So I'm now going to talk about the work that we're doing here at Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

So we recently developed a Mental Health at Work Action Plan that covers the next four years and this was actually launched yesterday here in Brisbane.

We also launched our new Queensland Mental Health Ambassador and this is Libby Trickett. Libby's going to work with us to raise awareness of the importance of mentally healthy workplaces in Queensland.

So getting back to our action plan, it has four key action areas and these include firstly building leadership capability at all levels of industry to manage psychosocial risks.

Our second action is to turn the latest research into practical, evidence based tools to assist industry and internal stakeholders to identify and manage psychosocial risks in the workplace and to ultimately create a mentally health workplace.

Our third action area is to work with community, industry and internal partners to increase the visibility and the importance of mental health at work. This is one of the action areas that Libby will of course help us with.

Finally we'll work towards providing a targeted and effective health and safety regulatory framework to improve the prevention and response to psychological health risks.

So over the next four years Workplace Health and Safety Queensland will be working hard in partnership with all of our key stakeholders to implement these actions to ultimately create mentally healthy workplaces.

So in summary, we know that one in five workers or 20 per cent are likely to be affected by poor mental health. We know that the employer or the PCBU and the worker have specific duties under workplace health and safety and national legislation to manage risks resulting in physical or psychological harm.

However unfortunately the workplace has been described as the breeding ground for stigma associated with mental health conditions.

So we'd like to encourage you to take action to create a mentally healthy workplace because we know that mentally healthy workplaces are more productive, we know that they're more profitable and we know that it's also essential if you want your business to truly be recognised as an employer of choice.

So Michael presented a range of effective contact and education approaches that you can easily use in your own business to create a mentally healthy workplace culture and to reduce stigma. Annika presented how some of these strategies have been effectively utilised through their Mind Matters programme at Aurecon.

Finally I've touched on the focus areas of the Mental Health at Work Action Plan that we've developed here at Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

So if you'd like more information about what the Queensland government is doing on the slide here is a snapshot of our web page and you'll find this as and you need to just search under 'mental health at work'.

This is the link to the Heads Up program that Michael provided earlier. In here you'll find a range of free tools and resources that will help you to take action in your own business or organisation and I encourage you to have a good look through this website.

So thanks very much for listening today and I'd like to thank our excellent presenters Michael and Annika. This webinar has been recorded and it will be available on our WorkSafe website late November.

So we now have time for a few questions that have come through and any questions that we don't get to we're happy to follow up with a response via email

So the first question that's come through that I will answer is:

Q:              How do I find out about the relevant legislation?

So we've just launched our new Mental Health at Work web page and there's actually a link on our page called 'What Laws Apply'. This tells you that the best resource for you would be the Guide to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 because it provides a good overview of the responsibilities of officers and workers.

Also there's a How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice and this details how to systematically manage psychosocial risks in the workplace. But this code should be followed in conjunction with Hazard Specific Guidance Material on Work-Related Stress, Work-Related Bullying, Fatigue and Violence.

Safe Work Australia also have a fact sheet on Preventing Psychological Injury under Work Health and Safety Laws and this might be useful for you too. All of this information is available on our website at

Finally I'd also encourage you to refer to the national legislation including the Information or Privacy Act 2009, the Fair Work Act 2009 and Disability Discrimination Act 1992

We've got another question that's come through for Michael.

Q:              What do you mean by 'mental health conditions'?

We talk about mental health conditions in terms of a spectrum, if you can think of one at one end you're well, at the right hand end you have a clinical disorder and in between you can have mild mental health conditions. We all move up and down that spectrum.

If we're talking about the clinical conditions, we're talking about particularly the high prevalence disorders, depression, anxiety and then there are other conditions like schizophrenia.

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia and you can find more information about depression and anxiety on our Beyond Blue website at However I'd like to emphasise that our challenge is to intervene and promote positive mental health when people are struggling so we can move them back to that wellbeing stage before they reach a situation where they may have a clinical condition.

Thanks Anna.

Thanks Michael. We've got another question that's come through for Annika and it is:

Q:              Can you tell me a bit more about mental health first aid and how you get trained to do this?

Yes, no worries. That's a great question.

Well in my opinion mental health first aid is the same as physical first aid. It teaches you how to be a first responder just like a physical first aider. Hopefully in the future there won't be a need for the differentiation between the two, but more information or courses can be found at Mental Health First Aid Australia which is the national organisation.

Their website is

I hope this answers your question and I hope your journey in your business will go as well as Aurecon's.

We've got another question that's come through for Michael and it is:

Q:              How do we as an employee engage management to get involved particularly when they give lip service only to mental health?

Thanks Anna.

That's a great challenge and one of the key elements of success in improving mental health in any workplace is that we do need both a grass roots, bottom-up and a top-down approach to create change.

What we've done with the Heads Up initiative if you have a look on the website under the tab 'Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace', is provide a range of research from a business perspective of the benefits of creating a mentally healthy workplace. So one of the levers if you like to grab managers' attention is the fact that untreated mental health conditions cost Australian businesses $10.9 billion every year and the majority of that is as Anna said earlier in productivity losses, not in workers' comp claims.

So there is an underlying opportunity for a business to improve its productivity by creating a more mentally healthy workplace.

In addition to that the same research which was undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers for us identified that for effective mental health conditions, for every $1 a company invests on average across Australia, there is a return of $2.3. So purely from a business economic case there is a cost of lost productivity in the business, there's a positive return on investment in addressing it.

In addition to that Anna touched on other areas like employer of choice where we have research again on the Heads Up website if you wish to have a look that can identify the benefits of a mentally healthy workplace. One of them is clearly being an employer of choice and in times of wanting to attract scarce resources, reduced turnover, reduced recruitments, reduced retraining costs, being an employer of choice is one way of doing that.

On top of that there are what I would call the baseline requirements that are there from the legislation. As Anna has mentioned there's the Occ Health and Safety Act, there's the Disability and Discrimination Act and there's requirements under privacy acts and legislation around bullying, all of which point to the benefits or the need for a mentally healthy workplace.

So I think you can present an argument that's both economic, employer of choice and it's just simple, good for the business.

On the Heads Up website you will find a range of resources around all of this information. You'll provide information on how to get started. There's a whole starter pack there if you wish to have a look at that and ways to engage with management. So I'd encourage you to have a look at the Heads Up website and perhaps follow up on some of those.

Thank you.

Thanks very much Michael.

We've got another question that's come in and it is:

Q:              What assistance can we receive from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland as an organisation to spread awareness?

So I think what I'll do here is refer you to our website at This is probably the best place to start to just find some general and useful information on what a mentally healthy workplace is and what this means for you. It will also outline responsibilities of a PCBU Officer and a worker.

But I think if you're after specific resources to help you to take action in your own workplace I would suggest that you go to the website that Michael and I have been talking about. At this site you'll find a number of steps that will help you to take action within your workplace. So it helps you to set out a business case through to developing an action plan within your own business.

We've got another question here that's come through for Michael.

Q:              Is there a place to become a trained mental health employee?

Michael O'Hanlon:

That's a really interesting question. Thanks Anna.

There's opportunity for everybody in a workplace to become aware of mental health and depending what you mean by 'trained mental health employee' there are a range of options. There is the course that Annika referenced – Mental Health First Aid – which is an excellent course around particularly on crisis intervention with mental health conditions in the workplace that is available for employees.

There are other more general programs that are designed to raise awareness, break down stigma and provide the confidence and skills to have a conversation with someone you might be concerned with in a workplace. An example of that is our Beyond Blue National Workplace Program which has training courses targeted at employees, at leaders and managers, and at OH&S and return to work and HR areas.

So there are many opportunities for those trainings and I would suggest that overall everyone in a workplace needs to have an understanding of being able to recognise what might be signs and symptoms of a mental health condition, and importantly how to have a conversation to encourage an individual to take action and support.

Again, check out the Heads Up website. There's some great video examples there of how to have those conversations, how to plan them, what to say, what not to say.

So thank you again.

Thanks Michael.

Our next question is for Annika.

Q:              How did you select mental health first aiders and what criteria did you use?

That's a great question. That's one that's been put at us at Aurecon before.

I can answer part of that question. The Mind Matters Committee opened up the opportunity for all employees to become a mental health first aider. They used kind of a survey, a form that was sent out to all employees which asked questions regarding your interest and why you had an interest in mental health. Then that was sent back to the mental health committee and I'm not sure on the criteria that they used at that point, but I can definitely put that to the Mind Matters Committee and get back to you on what criteria they used at that point.

Thanks Annika.

We've got another question for Michael.

Q:              If you have a high turnover of staff due to remoteness or transfer or etc, how can you create an ongoing cultural change towards mental health when key people often leave after two years?

Thanks Anna.

Yeah, this is a question that I've seen lots of challenge around this, particularly in Queensland and WA if you want to refer to the resources industry, where remoteness, fly-in fly-out, drive-in drive-out and people moving around can be quite a challenge to an individual's mental health.

I think you've touched on a very important point in asking this question which is about creating cultural change because that's what we're really talking about here is the change in attitude towards mental health.

Where I've seen this done very well it's embracing the people who are involved in these remote workplaces or transfers and providing support for them around 'Okay, what is it going to be like?', 'What are the challenges they're going to face in this type of work?' and identifying what support factors are available for them to support them through the challenges they will face. So being very realistic about that and when you identify those support factors that are in place linking people to them so that when a challenge does occur they know who to go to.

It's also the challenges they will face with their families back home and how they can support their families, and importantly what their families can do to look after themselves knowing that there'll be this distance between them potentially and the individual who's working in the workplace.

So in summary it's taking a broad approach to the topic around mental health is important, identifying risk factors associated with remoteness, transfers for the worker and their family and then identifying strategies that you can put in place to minimise the impact of those risk factors.

So I hope that's helped you.

Thanks very much Michael.

We've got another question that's come through that's asking about small to medium businesses and what would we recommend for the smaller to medium sized business. I think what I'd do is recommend that you check out the Heads Up website again.

It's actually designed to be accessible for businesses of all sizes but we know that small and micro businesses do have really specific needs and challenges when it comes to workplace mental health. I think this is what our participant is raising here.

So you might like to check out the 'Top 10 tips for small businesses' which is a link on the Heads Up website. It has a range of simple ideas about where to start. You could then consider picking one or two actions to focus on and then speak to your team to find out what single action would have the most impact for them.

Remember Heads Up is also about encouraging business owners and leaders to take care of their own mental health too. The 'Business in Mind' resource which is another link on the Heads Up website contains practical tips about balancing the needs of your business with the rest of your life and features business owners speaking about their own experiences. Again you'll find all of this information on the Heads Up website which is

So that's actually all of the questions that have come through today but if you would like more information please do get in touch with our speakers. If you'd like more information about Mind Matters you can get in touch with Annika Doyle at Aurecon and of course Michael O'Hanlon from Beyond Blue is able to provide more information too.

So thanks again for listening today and please take a moment to complete our anonymous webinar feedback survey that will pop up as you close your session and thanks again for tuning in.

[End of Transcript]