Psychology Melbourne Blog

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Mental health in the workplace: worth supporting

Edited by Jill Wright,

mental health in the workplace: worth supporting

We couldn't help hoping, reading an article in one of the weekend newspapers this morning about the devastating effects on business of unresolved workplace conflicts - they can chew up 20 to 30 per cent of managers' and supervisors' time - that the Australian Psychological Society's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program gets the enthusiastic support of Australian employers.

The fact is that random newspaper articles that draw attention to the consequences of failing to address festering issues just don't seem to be enough to alert management to the economic and human costs that are allowed to go on burdening business and national productivity ... and unfortunately journalists seem to be largely unaware of the APS initiative.

The APS program  is a national effort to assess workplace practices and recognise companies that optimise and support employee wellbeing while promoting engagement and enhanced organisational performance. It includes high-quality measurement and benchmarking.

Psychology Melbourne is an enthusiastic supporter of the program. Our corporate department is doing an increasing amount of work with smart managers who realise the extraordinary benefits of these sorts of endeavours, but they are sadly only a comparative handful, compared with the vast majority of companies that go on repeating the same mistakes, day after day. 

We wonder whether the only way to end this neglect is for company directors to be better educated in the fact that financial accountability really extends to the intelligent preservation of human capital, as much as financial resources.

The APS program is based on the highly successful initiative by its US counterpart, the American Psychological Association, which highlights the benefits for employers and employees.

As the APS points out, "winners of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards proved their success with lower turnover rates, reduced levels of stress, higher employee satisfaction and greater alignment of employee and organisational values - positive outcomes for organisations and individuals".

The fact that the US initiative has been in place for 14 years suggests that our business schools are not paying sufficient attention to this topic.

We would like to think that more managers will take the opportunity to read some of the research papers that the APS program website offers as resources.

It's interesting to see how much effort State governments like Victoria and Western Australia are putting in to promoting physical health in the workplace. WorkSafe Victoria, for instance, promotes a healthy workplace kit. We can't help wondering, however, whether it might benefit from a little more emphasis on psychological aspects of workplace health.

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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.