A Mentally Healthy Workplace

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Around 45% of Australians between 16 and 85 years will experience a mental illness at some point in their life[1]. Therefore, it is likely that as a manager or a business owner, you will supervise someone with a mental illness.


Work-related stress

Some employees may develop their mental illness outside of the workplace; however, this is not always the case. You may have employees who are experiencing considerable stress at work that contributes to a mental illness.

Worksafe Victoria describes work-related stress as the physical, mental, emotional and behavioural reactions of employees who perceive that their work demands exceed their abilities and/or resources to cope and do their work.

A total of 3.2 days per worker is lost each year through workplace stress[2]. Some factors that can cause stress include unreasonable work demands, lack of role clarity, little autonomy, and poor support from managers and colleagues.


Creating a mentally healthy workplace

The organisational culture of your workplace plays a big role in employee productivity, motivation and loyalty. As a leader in your organisation, you can implement some measures to create a mentally healthy workplace:

  • Establish clear policies and procedures
  • Encourage autonomy
  • Have well-defined structures, roles and responsibilities
  • Be realistic about what an employee can achieve
  • Ensure open communication with your employees about any issues and changes that impact the organisation
  • Value the contributions from your employees and colleagues in decision-making
  • Encourage a workplace where employees support each other
  • Allow open communication when any issues arise
  • Provide constructive feedback
  • Recognise your employees formally or informally
  • Provide training, development and growth opportunities
  • Ensure your managers are trained to recognise mental distress and support their staff
  • Offer support if an employee is struggling with their workload or any other issues
  • Create a culture where it is OK to talk about mental health
  • Provide access to counselling services.


Be open about mental health in the workplace and promote a work-life balance. By providing a mentally healthy workplace, all workers will benefit, and it makes good business sense.

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results 2007
[2] Medibank Private (2008) The Cost of Workplace Stress in Australia