30 November 2022

The Importance of Providing Mental Health Training in the Workplace

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The Importance of Providing Mental Health Training in the Workplace

With up to one third of our daily lives spent at work, it’s no surprise that our workplace environment can have a substantial impact on our mental health. So, what can we do to improve conversations and support for individuals experiencing mental health issues and how can we make mental health a conversation topic that’s regularly discussed around the boardroom and lunch table?

Mental Health and Wellbeing in Australia

According to the National Study of Mental Health & Wellbeing (ABS 2022) 1 in 5 Australians between the ages of 16-85 experienced a mental health disorder in 2021, with females more likely than males to navigate the challenges of a mainly anxiety, depression or an eating disorder. The covid pandemic, amongst other things, also brought about new changes to how we work, with hybrid roles, working in shared offices, or coworking spaces now standard practice.

Coupled with obvious benefits (putting a load of laundry on while waiting for a meeting to start!) our new work-life arrangements have also produced challenges for many, with the lines between personal and professional time often blurred and the potential for chronic stress and burnout a considerable risk. For this, and many other reasons, it’s essential organisations provide ongoing mental health training, access to individualised support like an Employee Assistance Program and holistic workplace wellbeing programs that assist in improving employee mental health.

"Our new work-life arrangements have also produced challenges for many, with the lines between personal and professional time often blurred and the potential for chronic stress and burnout a considerable risk"

Mental Health In The Workplace Australia

Enhance Workplace Culture
Improving workplace culture and providing an inclusive and supportive environment is not just about educating one or two team-members about mental health, but rather providing whole workplace mental health training to every employee in the organisation. Workplace mental health training often includes education around identifying the signs of mental health issues, understanding the mental health continuum, developing conversation skills to ensure stigmatising language and references aren’t used, and learning evidence-based strategies for protecting and improving mental health. Supporting team members also involves understanding what resources are available and suitable for particular situations including Lifeline when suicide risk may be evident.

Improve Productivity and Performance
It’s no secret that healthy and well individuals, make healthy and well employees. When team members feel supported, heard and understood in the workplace, they’re more likely to perform better and adopt positive workplace habits. Some studies show that merely addressing wellbeing at work can increase productivity by more than 10%. Mental Health In The Workplace training helps to build a more collaborative and trusting team where colleagues and managers understand symptoms of mental health issues, and feel comfortable conversating and accessing resources that are available to support them.

On the contrary, ignoring signs of poor mental health and continually increasing stress levels can reduce productivity, impair decision-making and increase the risk of accidents and/or mistakes at work.

Reduce the Stigma
Mental health training is an effective tool in improving education around mental health issues and reducing the stigma often attached to mental illness in the workplace. With mental health injuries up 80% in Australia and the cost of psychological claims now around 3.5 times that of physical claims, ignoring mental illness is no longer an option. By providing employees with information and tools to better understand and support mental illness, training can reduce the stigma attached to speaking out and sharing concerns about mental health.

What Can You Do?
Mental health awareness and safety is everyone’s responsibility, not just higher management. Take ownership by speaking transparently about mental health issues, avoiding stigmatising language and acknowledging the impact of work-related stress and burnout on employee wellbeing.

Changing our ways is as much about taking action on the floor as it is about creating policies in the boardroom. We can all be role models in this space with a little more awareness, education and practice.

A Note from The Wellness Workshop
If you’re not sure where to start, consider providing mental health training for your employees and co-workers with a Mental Health In The Workplace workshop. You can choose a 1, 2 or 3 hour workshop, either online or face-to-face, and adapted for either team members or managers. All workshops are evidence-based and equip your team with the knowledge, tools and legal requirements they need to be aware of when dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.

Workshops start from as little as $1199 ex GST for a group of 15 employees including everything from setting up your workshop, facilitation by expert instructors, and take-home materials employees can keep forever as a resource.

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