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FAST FACTS

MENTAL HEALTH IS EVERYBODY’S BUSINESS As you read this, around one in six Australian workers are experiencing mental illness. In some occupations, particularly those that involve mental stress or trauma, the rate is even higher.

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epression and anxiety are the leading cause of long-term sickness absence in the developed world and projected to be the biggest cause of long-term disability by 2030. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, so a CEO is just as susceptible as an admin assistant, possibly even more so. From a business perspective, this means significant costs to productivity and operations. From a human angle, it means more and more qualified people are becoming marginalised from workforces where they could potentially make a worthwhile contribution. As awareness of workplace mental health issues has increased, more and more businesses are looking for solutions. A simple online search for workplace mental health will pull up thousands of results recommending everything from motivational talks to meditation. So, which one is best? A comprehensive global analysis by Black Dog Institute researchers has identified a number of evidence-based interventions that will improve mental health in your workplace.

Seven steps to better workplace mental health 1. Understand: Every workplace is different so it is important to understand who your audience is and how the best outcome can be achieved. 2. Involve: Increase employee engagement in the aspects of work that impact their mental health. Examples could include flexible working conditions or variable performance management structures. 3. Educate: Implement workplace health promotion campaigns that encourage workers to become more aware of the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and where support can be obtained. 4. Lead: Provide leadership training at all levels to ensure managers are confident in recognising the signs of mental illness, facilitating support and accessing appropriate workplace adjustments. 5. Target: Acknowledge that some occupations have a higher risk and proactively encourage workers to improve their resilience through evidence-based early intervention programs like myCompass.org.au. 6. Engage: Develop and encourage multilevel peer support or mentoring schemes to develop a safe framework for staff to seek support. 7. Plan: Develop a dedicated and accessible return-to-work program to assist those who have had to take leave for mental health reasons.

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What can YOU do to improve your mental health at work? 1. Get active: Research shows that physical activity not only improves your waistline, it improves your mood. 2. Be mindful: Simple meditation techniques such as mindfulness can calm the mind and reduce stress. 3. Sleep well: Poor sleep can tip someone from stressed to depressed. Schedule in some wind-down time before heading to bed. 4. Avoid alcohol and stimulants: Alcohol is a depressant and caffeine may induce anxiety. Minimising intake of both will help boost your mood. 5. Remember your work/life balance: Sometimes it’s hard to remember there’s life outside of work but time spent with family, hobbies and other passions can induce happiness and joy and is essential to a healthy, balanced life.

Need more information about mental health in the workplace? Managing mental health in the workplace can be a daunting task, but the good news is some great resources have now been made available. Black Dog Institute has developed a range of advisory and education programs using the evidence and best practice developed by its research team. These programs can be tailored to individual workforces and presented anywhere in Australia or New Zealand. Find out more at www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/education/workplace or contact the Head of Education Jon Tennant on j.tennant@blackdog.org.au. Black Dog Institute www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2015 - SAFETY SOLUTIONS 49

Profile for Westwick-Farrow Media

Safety Solutions Aug/Sept 2015  

Launched in April 2003, this bi-monthly magazine provides vital information on safety products and services in the industrial, construction,...

Safety Solutions Aug/Sept 2015  

Launched in April 2003, this bi-monthly magazine provides vital information on safety products and services in the industrial, construction,...