Mental Health in the Work Place

Mental health, it’s a growing epidemic!

At first glance you may be forgiven for thinking the effects of stress, fatigue and other mental illness affect solely the individual and immediate family.   However, look a little harder and it’s clear that mental health has a much wider impact on society as a whole … and the workplace isn’t immune.

Mental health in the workplace is estimated to affect 1 in 5 workers according to Medibank Private-commissioned research[i].  It is now the main reason Australian workers take extended sick leave or become incapacitated, resulting in 3.2 days per worker being lost each year.

Untreated mental health conditions are estimated to cost Australian employers over $10 billion every year through absenteeism, reduced productivity and compensation claims[ii].  This is an alarming leap from $730 million in 2010, as reported by the University of Melbourne and VicHealth.

So, is what is work-related mental stress?

We’ve probably all experienced stress at some point in our lives – it can be beneficial in short bursts, helping you stay alert and perform your best.  Work or job-related stress occurs when the workplace demands and responsibilities are greater than the worker can comfortably manage or are beyond their ability, putting the worker under an unsustainable level of pressure.

Prolonged or excessive job stress can be damaging to your mental health. It can trigger depression, anxiety, burnout and may cause an existing condition to worsen.

The good news is that work-related mental stress is manageable.  Businesses that take a proactive approach in creating a mentally healthy workplace will benefit in many ways.

Research has shown that for every dollar spent creating a mentally healthy workplace, a positive return on investment (ROI) of 2.3 will be returned, on average.[iii]  Furthermore, costs can be reduced in the form of higher productivity, increased staff morale and reduced breaches of WHS legislation.

Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all employees, with legislation requiring businesses to identify and minimise any workplace risks to mental health.

There are a number of simple actions all businesses can take to promote mental health in their workplace.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Increase awareness of mental health conditions in the workplace
  • Support employees with mental health conditions to stay at or return to work
  • Create a discrimination-free workplace where diversity is respected
  • Ensure a zero-tolerance approach to bullying
  • Provide clarity on job roles and responsibilities.
  • Monitor work load and work hours.

However small you decide to start, take the first step to develop an action plan which  creates a mentally healthy workplace.

Morstone is happy to connect you to specialist help should you need it. Contact Tracy Morgan via email at, or call 0401 808676.