Signs your workplace does not take mental health seriously


Thursday, 29 October, 2020


Signs your workplace does not take mental health seriously

The Black Dog Institute has called for businesses to stop holding coffee mornings to raise awareness of mental health, urging them to direct their efforts to implementing proven programs to support colleagues. In an advisory white paper, the Black Dog Institute claims that more needs to be done for those who need mental health support, rather than simply talking about mental health and urging everyone to seek help.

“Australia does not need any more mental health awareness campaigns because we do not have a mental health awareness problem. GP surgeries up and down the country are full of people asking for help with their mental health. At the Black Dog Institute we have more than 10,000 people each month use our Online Clinic to take the first step toward getting help,” said Sam Harvey, Chief Psychiatrist at the Black Dog Institute.

The institute is urging businesses to implement proven programs, such as its own Mental Health Tool Kit — a practical guide for workers to assist in the understanding of common mental health issues in the workplace. The toolkit also provides strategies and resources to support those who may be experiencing a mental health condition.

The institute has also revealed four signs that indicate that organisations do not take mental health seriously:

  1. Organisations have morning teas on awareness days. Research indicates that workplaces need to use the momentum generated by morning teas and channel this into something constructive.
  2. Organisations don’t offer flexible work arrangements. Offering flexibility enables workplaces to look after their employees, and this has never been more significant in a remote working COVID environment.
  3. Employees feel guilty about taking a mental health day. Research shows that mentally health workers are more productive and less likely to take sick leave, making mental health days a win-win for employers and employees.
  4. Organisations do not offer practical training. As mental health becomes a part of Australia’s national agenda, workplaces need to implement mental health training for employees and put support systems in place. This will be particularly necessary in a post-COVID world.

Associate Professor Harvey noted that while there is some evidence that mental health awareness programs can increase knowledge about mental health, there is no evidence that awareness campaigns change the things that matter: seeking help for mental health problems, suicidal behaviour or reaching out to help others.

“It’s great that so many workplaces want to do things to help support the mental health of their workers. Let’s make sure that we capture this momentum to make real changes to workplaces and help those that are asking for support,” said Associate Professor Harvey.

The Mental Health Tool Kit provides information on stress, depression and anxiety in the workplace. It also provides advice on seeking help and tips on supporting others, with information about wellbeing and staying well at work.

The toolkit offers links to helpful videos, websites and online tools, and addresses the type of training managers and other leaders need so that they have the practical skills to deal with mental health problems when they occur.

“If workplaces, schools and other organisations want to organise events or campaigns for their staff or students to raise awareness, that is great, they have my full support. But they need to be offering something practical; a call to action or a program that teaches people practical skills,” said Associate Professor Harvey.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Tap10

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