Would you hire someone with a mental health condition? 

You probably already have.

One in five of your employees is likely to be experiencing a mental health condition at any given time. So hiring may not be the issue you need to manage. The question many employers think about is how to foster a happy and healthy workplace with their current employees.

The issue facing Australian workplaces

While employees clearly have a major responsibility for their own physical and mental health and safety, so do employers. Safe Work Australia has identified mental health in the workplace as one of the most important issues businesses face today. Untreated depression alone results in over six million working days lost each year in Australia. 

Another major issue to address is that your employees may be reluctant to disclose any mental health concerns. This was the case in Britain, where one third of workers surveyed feared disclosing mental health concerns would damage to their job prospects and that their manager would not understand or would think less of them. To have employees feeling they have to hide health issues is bad for morale and bad for your business.

Employee turnover is very expensive so it literally pays to develop a workplace culture where people stay because they are supported, engaged and productive. Taking mental health seriously will put you ahead of the curve compared to your competitors.

You can also expect your customers and clients to feel more comfortable if you are serious about your workplace culture and supporting your workforce.  And with a mentally healthy workplace, top performers will be attracted to work there so you will have access to a bigger and better talent pool.

Creating mentally healthy workplaces 

Supporting your employees is not difficult.

We asked more than 1200 employers what they needed in this area. Top of the list was access to information about mental health including information on the nature and impact of specific mental health conditions. They also wanted resources for supervisors and staff on mental health awareness and management in the workplace.

This is easy. There’s a huge amount of information on these topics which is simple to access at beyondblue and headsup.  

Employers were also interested in practical support. For example, if you need a helpline for advice when issues occur in the workplace, try the jobaccess adviser and the immediate support available from beyondblue

There’s also information on how employers can support employees in the workplace and information on developing work plans, including appropriate duties, work arrangements and hours of work. This information, including work plan templates is available from headsup.

And there’s more detail on these topics on the Safe Work Australia website. Becoming familiar with these resources is a great way to start developing a mentally healthy workplace.

For employers who are confident about developing a diverse and inclusive workforce, your local jobactive provider can help you source a wide range of suitable candidates. There are incentives and wage subsidies available through jobactive to help employers in every industry across Australia find the right staff.

So take the next step in growing your business and contact your local jobactive provider to discuss how they can help you build your workforce. 

It’s time we all took mental health seriously as part of developing a resilient workforce and a supportive culture in our workplaces. Because a mentally healthy workplace makes dollars and sense.