Psychology Melbourne Blog

News and Insights from the Science of the Mind

Workplace mental health issues rising in Melbourne

Edited by Jill Wright,

Workplace mental health issues are becoming a growing issue for Melbourne companies, according to a survey released by employment lawyers, Minter Ellison. 

The report, available as a PDF here, notes that the legal profession is itself over-represented in the incidence of mental health problems, and finds that more than half of the 226 Victorian firms participating in the survey reported an increase in the number of staff experiencing issues.

One third of participants reported more than 15 instances of staff experiencing mental health issues in their organisation in the past 12 months.

Despite that, according to the report, organisations are not measuring the impact of staff with mental health issues on their workplaces and most do not have specific policies or procedures for identifying and managing staff mental health issues.

The Minter Ellison report supports the beyondblue "State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia" survey, which revealed that only 52% of employees believe their workplace is mentally healthy and only 56% believe their most senior leaders value mental health.

In the UK, Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies pointed out two years ago that 75 per cent of employees with diagnosable mental illness - principally depression and anxiety - received no treatment, and as a result, the economy was losing 70 million working days per year. If anything, the situation today is worse.

She described mental health as "a Cinderella subject" and urged decision makers to begin treating it with the same concern as they did physical health problems.

Ironically, she also pointed out that many people presenting to hospital with acute physical health problems "may also be experiencing an underlying mental illness which can contribute to their presentation or impact on their prognosis and those with physical health problems often have a higher incidence of mental health problems".

At Psychology Melbourne, we've been working to bring to the attention of policy makers the fact that the cost of medical treatment in Australia would be dramatically reduced if many patients received brief psychological treatment.

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 APS Victorian branch Study Group Network. Find out more about Jill Wright.