About Mental Health

Why Is Mental Health So Important?

Mental Health is the concern of every member of our community. Official figures show that 1 in 5 Australians in any 12 month period will have a mental illness. This figure is increased in adolescents and in the older age groups. When you consider it is estimated that at least one-third of all people who have a mental illness do not seek help, then the figure of 1:5 increases dramatically. Add to this number the people who are Carers for people with mental illness and you have a large percentage of the population affected by mental ill health.

The costs to the workplace

Questions you may need to ask yourself if you are a manager:

  • Are you aware of how to Performance Manage a person with mental illness?
  • Are you aware of the positive aspects of employing a person who has a mental health issue?
  • Do you know what mania looks like and the potential positive and negative aspects of it?
  • Do you know how to prevent mental illness in the workplace?
  • What training have your directors, managers, WHS, HR, and other staff had in mental health?
  • What policies and protocols does your workplace have to prevent stress and mental illness from being a burden?
  • Are you aware of the changes in workplace legislation about stress and mental illness and the precedents that have now been set in the courts of law about litigation against individual directors, managers and workplaces who have not provided a safe workplace?
  • Do you know how to make workplace adjustments to suit a person with mental illness?
  • Do you know how to make Wellness/Stay Safe Contracts?

Mental illness costs the Australian economy $60 billion every year. The Shared Value Project Report launched in 2019 found that in the corporate sector alone, the cost of lost wages, decreased productivity and support services related to mental health cost $13 billion a year. The report said the corporate world will needs to drop the “cookie-cutter” employee wellbeing programs and integrate wellbeing as a lens throughout the whole business with a focus on prevention. Helen Steel, the SVP CEO, said that a holistic approach to tackling mental health was critical because everything fed back into each other. “Addressing mental ill-health can increase employee efficiency and attendance, improve customer engagement and financial stability, and create more thriving communities to do business with,” Steel said.

“Ultimately, healthier stakeholders equate to a healthier bottom line.” https://sharedvalue.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/SVP-Impact-Report_June.pdf

The World Health Organization claims that mental health issues are the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death in first world countries. With 1 in 4 people in any 12 month period experiencing a mental health issue it is estimated that over 50% of people, through the course of their life time, will suffer from short or long term mental illness. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, (Australian Government, 2017) suicide is the biggest cause of death in people between 14 and 44 years of age.

With this in mind it is impossible for workplaces, educational institutions, communities and individuals to not be affected either directly or indirectly. Now is the time to learn about what to do to prevent and minimize the concerns raised about this increasing workplace and social concern.

However, people with mental health issues (mental illness) who know they can be open about their lived experience and be supported at work, take significantly fewer days off work. If businesses and the community continue to ignore the warning signs of individuals who may be struggling with the effects of trauma and mental health concerns, the issues may become more complex and difficult to manage. However, if people are proactive and put into place education, training, workplace and social adjustments to ensure that people do not become unwell, are valued, understood and supported, they recover faster and the outcomes will be positive, enlightening and empowering for all concerned.

Consider the famous people throughout history who have had ‘mental illness’ and the amazing achievements they have brought to our way of living. Where would we be without them? Who are the next Michelangelo’s, Leonardo da Vince’s, John Nash’s, Beethoven’s etc. they may well be in your family, workplace or community?

“Our workplace has recognised the need for change in how we address the mental health and emotional well being of our staff. Introducing Vision In Mind Stay Well Action Plans has given managers in our organisation a really useful tool that allows us to take both a coordinated and collaborative approach in responding to mental health issues. I have been able to tailor the Stay Well Action Plan to fit individual needs and circumstances and at the same time allow the responsibility for a staff members mental health needs to be in their control with an agreement on how I can best support my staff member clearly in place. Thanks Fay for providing us with a tool that assists managers identify best how we can support our staff and work towards positive mental health outcomes together”.
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