Fracture an arm and the visible cast draws instant attention and sympathy.
Unfortunately anxiety, depression and other mental health issues are not quite as apparent. Add stigma to the mix, and you get a recipe for denial and silence.
Think about it. You wouldn’t hesitate to take some time off work for a fractured arm. But anxiety… that’s not quite as easy.
Mental health can no longer be ignored. A staggering 1 in 5 Australians are impacted. Employers are increasingly aware that it is affecting their productivity and profitability.
The Investing to Save report just published by Mental Health Australia and KPMG highlights the economic benefits of investing in mental health reform in Australia.
The very first recommendation is to maintain the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce.
This report sheds light on the cold hard numbers. Mental health issues in the workplace cost the Australian economy $12.8 billion each year due to absenteeism, presenteeism and workplace injuries.
More importantly for employers, the report states that select interventions could save $4.5 billion a year.
Many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs. However, the actual take up of counselling through these programs remains abysmally low.
I believe it is important to go beyond a tick and flick mindset. To adopt a holistic approach that truly values the mental wellbeing of employees. A genuine culture shift can help overcome the associated stigma. Employees need to feel confident about expressing themselves without fear of repercussion.
In a recent interview, I expressed my thoughts about employee wellbeing in more detail.
Many thanks to Mental Health Australia and KPMG for commissioning and publishing this excellent report. Hopefully this will spur governments and corporate Australia to implement the recommendations for mental health reform.
For details about Holyoake’s Wellbeing@Work programs, please visit www.holyoake.org.au