Pro­tect your men­tal health. Me­lanie Burgess writes


Nick Ab­ley, group busi­ness man­ager of com­mer­cial con­struc­tion com­pany BADGE


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.


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.

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