Mental Health in the workplace

August 27th, 2015

The importance of creating a workplace that is both physically and mentally healthy cannot be underestimated. A recent report on workplace mental health written by PricewaterhouseCoopers 1
estimated that mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces approximately $11 billion per year, which includes absenteeism, presenteeism and workers compensation claims.

These numbers are frightening, yet findings in the same report showed that by successfully implementing effective actions aimed at creating a mentally healthy workplace, organisations can, on average, expect a positive return on investment with $2.30 in benefits to be gained by the organisation for every dollar spent.

There are a range of workplace strategies which have proven to be effective in improving mental health within organisations. These include:
Worksite physical activity programs where workers engage in a physical exercise program once or twice a week. Worksite physical activity programs have been shown to elevate psychological scores as well as reducing the risk of absenteeism and depression.
Coaching and mentoring programs designed to empower workers. These have been shown to reduce levels of depression.
Mental health first aid (MHFA) courses which teaches adults (18 years and over) how to provide initial support to adults who are developing a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis. This action can provide greater confidence in providing help to others, increased likelihood of advising people to seek professional help and improved coordination with mental health professionals.
Resilience training initiatives require a significant investment of time and emotion, however these types of programs can result in decreased depressive symptoms and reduced intentions to retire early.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) based return-to-work programs are useful when workers are returning to work after experiencing mental health problems.
Well-being checks or health screening can be used as a form of workplace action to address attitudes that may lead to mental health problems. Programs have shown to decrease both absenteeism and presenteeism resulting from mental health problems.

The MHFA course has traditionally been offered as a 12 hour face-to-face training course. Mental Health First Aid Australia has now designed the Blended Mental Health First Aid Course for the White-Collar Workplace for workplaces that require increased flexibility in the delivery of training for their staff members. The course is a combination of online (eLearning) and 3.5-hours of follow-on face-to-face training and teaches managers, supervisors and individuals how to assist a co-worker who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. However, course participants will learn mental health first aid skills that can be applied to help any adult. Course content is tailored to the white-collar workplace setting using case-studies, videos and resources tailored to their learning needs.

Course participants first complete the interactive self-paced eLearning component that presents an overview of mental health problems and mental health crises. The follow-on face-to-face training allows participants the opportunity to revise and consolidate skills in a group environment, and to address mental health problems in the workplace in more depth.

For more information: Mental Health First Aid Australia
SRC Solutions has instructors available to deliver both the 12 hour face to face training as well as the 3.5 session as part of the Blended course.

1 Creating a mentally healthy workplace – Return on investment analysis. PWC and Beyond Blue March 2014