Employers who promote good mental health are more likely to attract and keep the best talent. Inclusive workplaces that are open to communication create a positive environment for others to thrive in, resulting in increased productivity.
According to The Australian Equal Rights, managers and employers are likely to come across employees with a mental illness who have either developed their condition prior to employment or during the course of it. The direct responsibility of the employer is to create a healthy and safe working environment.
Reasons for developing mental health strategies for the workplace because a safe and healthy workplace is good for business, and creating a safe and healthy workplace makes good business sense by:
- reducing costs associated with worker absence from work and high worker turnover
- achieving greater staff loyalty and a higher return on training investment
- minimising stress levels and improving morale
- avoiding litigation and fines for breaches of health and safety laws
- avoiding the time and cost involved in discrimination claims
- avoiding industrial disputes.
Because it improves productivity
Research shows that every dollar spent on identifying, supporting and case-managing workers with mental health issues yields close to a 500% return in improved productivity (through increased work output and reduced sick and other leave). The adoption of broad organisational strategies to support workers with mental illness (for example flexible work arrangements) will also benefit other workers, such as carers.
Because society and workplaces are diverse
Today’s workforce reflects the diversity of the Australian population. Successful businesses and managers recognise the contributions made by a diverse workforce, including workers with mental illness. Diverse skills, abilities and creativity benefit the business by providing new and innovative ways of addressing challenges and meeting the needs of a similarly diverse customer population.
Because mental illness can affect anyone
Mental health problems, especially depression and anxiety, are common in the community. While some people have a long-term mental illness, many may have a mental illness for a relatively short period of time. Most of us will experience a mental health issue at some time in our lives or be in close contact with someone who has experienced mental illness.
Because it is the law
As an employer, you have legal obligations in relation to the management of mental illness in the workplace.
- Ensuring health and safety: OHS legislation requires you to ensure your workplace is safe and healthy for all workers and does not cause ill health or aggravate existing conditions.
- Avoiding discrimination: disability discrimination legislation requires you to ensure your workplace does not discriminate against or harass workers with mental illness. You are also required to make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of workers with mental illness.
- Ensuring privacy: privacy legislation requires you to ensure personal information about a worker’s mental health status is not disclosed to anyone without the worker’s consent.
- Avoiding adverse actions: you are also required under Commonwealth industrial law to ensure your workplace does not take any adverse action against a worker because of their mental illness.
In turn, all workers (including those with mental illness) are legally obliged to:
- take reasonable care for their own health and safety
- take reasonable care that their acts and omissions do not adversely affect the health or safety of others
- Cooperate with any reasonable instructions to ensure workplace health and safety.
Larry Crabb asks, “What is your basis for Joy & Meaning?”
“God went to great lengths to ensure our eternal wholeness and joy. But we dishonour His love when we take on the responsibility to arrange our experience of personal well-being, to look to the good things of life and good treatment from others as the basis for our joy and meaning in this world. His call is clear. We are to entrust our well-being to God while we live to reveal Him to others by the way we relate as men and women.”
Although life in the workplace can become really difficult at times, our responsibility as Christians is not to allow our joy to be taken away from us.
Ecclesiastes 3:13 tells us, “That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God.”
If you find life at work very difficult to cope with, you may want to talk to a qualified counsellor.
Cred. Dip. Couns. (Christian)
Visit the Australian Human Rights Commission to find out more about Mental Health In The Workplace