TAKING THE LEAD ON WELLBEING
Protect your mental health. Melanie Burgess writes
Nick Abley, group business manager of commercial construction company BADGE
WHY IS MENTAL HEALTH A PRIORITY IN YOUR COMPANY?
We strive to create a workplace that’s inclusive and supportive of all our employees and like any employer, we have staff who at times may struggle with their mental wellbeing. We want all our staff to feel comfortable speaking with colleagues and supervisors about any personal issues.
HOW DOES THE COMPANY ADDRESS MENTAL HEALTH?
As part of BADGE’s Employee Assistance Program, any employee or a member of their family have 24-7 access to free and confidential sessions with a professional counsellor. All our staff are encouraged to undertake general mental health awareness training with industry organisation Mates In Construction, with many undertaking additional courses in this area.
We post regular articles on mental health and wellbeing on our group intranet and information is available in all our offices on organisations such as Beyond Blue. Flexible working arrangements are also able to be put in place for anyone that requires support.
IN the lead up to World Mental Health Day on October 10, employers and employees alike are urged to rethink how they approach this issue in the workplace. For employers, it’s about leading by example, ensuring employees are comfortable having open conversations and offering help to those who need it.
For employees, it’s about finding an employer with good mental health policy, supporting colleagues and looking after themselves to avoid issues such as burn out or stress, which can contribute to mental illness.
One in five Australians aged 16 to 85 experience a mental illness in any given year, a survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals.
Nicole Dwyer, chief executive of employment services provider Workskil Australia, says the organisation increasingly assists people with mental health illness. Its Disability Employment Services team works closely with jobseekers and employers to ensure the right support mechanisms are in place.
“Employers are generally more understanding of the specific issues facing workers with mental illness,” she says.
“The most progressive employers have established programs and policies in place that are helping reduce the stigma.”
Dwyer says unemployment and financial worries can lead to anxiety among some jobseekers, while mounting workload pressure can be a major form of stress for those in work. “Jobseekers and employees should feel comfortable discussing mental health . . . just as they would a physical disability,” she says.
Employment Office chief operating officer Andrea Davey recommends jobseekers with mental – or physical – health issues first settle into a role before broaching the subject with HR.
“Unfortunately, conscious and unconscious bias still exists in the recruitment process at times,” she says. “If it doesn’t impact your ability to do a good job, there is no need to share it during the interview process.”
She also recommends reading a potential employer’s website and social media before applying for work to get a feel for how supportive they are of mental health.
“You may also want to connect with people who already work at the company on LinkedIn, and ask them how they find the company as a place to work,” she says.