Psychology Melbourne Blog

News and Insights from the Science of the Mind

Managing mental health in the workplace

Edited by Jill Wright,

managing mental health in the workplace

Almost half of the population will experience a mental disorder at some stage in their lifetime, with one in five Australians experiencing mental illness in the last twelve months. For managers and employers, this means that chances are you will be supervising employees with these kinds of issues at some point, and highlights the importance of fostering a positive workplace environment.

Employers have legal obligations to making reasonable changes to allow employees to perform their duties with mental illness, as well as protecting their health, safety, privacy and offering a fair chance. Work can play an important role in recovery of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression by providing structure and routine, social inclusion, financial security and contribute a sense of meaning. 

Changes in employee performance, appearance, mood – maybe a dishevelled appearance, change in productivity or lateness – can indicate something may be going on. It’s important to be supportive, whether that is by offering wellbeing programs, or being vocal that you take mental health seriously, it can increase confidence and reduce fear of stigma that can prevent communication.

If you do notice changes, ask if everything is ok, and don’t always expect an answer the first time. Instilling confidence and being inclusive is vital for communication and for employees to feel safe and supported. 

A 2014 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers analysing investment returns, found that for every dollar spent on creating a mentally healthy workplace, you can expect a positive return of $2.3 in benefits to the organisation. This may present itself by increased positivity, less absenteeism, fewer compensation claims and reduced resignations requiring rehiring. 

Psychology Melbourne offers Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which provides a counselling service to employees, relieving emotional pressure, increasing productivity and maintaining a positive workplace environment.

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About the editor, Jill Wright

Jill Wright (MAPS, AAFT, AICD) is the Director and Principal Psychologist at Psychology Melbourne. Jill was twice elected General Director of the Australian Psychological Society and established the Study Group Network. Find out more about Jill Wright.