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3 Ways To Bring Mental Health Into The Workplace

Social enterprises are driven by the desire to make a positive difference. It’s not uncommon for us to operate successfully with razor thin resources. Commercial enterprises are often surprised by how much we can achieve with so little! However, the relentless pursuit of the social good can have undesirable side-effects. The associated stress can impact on our mental wellness and that of our employees.

Does this sound familiar? If so, read on…

Mental illness is an insidious condition that can creep up on anyone. In fact, the statistics are quite alarming: 1 in 5 Australians experience a mental illness every year; we lose 6 Australians to suicide every day; the direct cost to Australian industry exceeds $4 billion each year.

None of us are immune. So it would be prudent to pause and evaluate our current employee mental wellness initiatives. After all, doing good starts in our own backyards.

Some of us may offer Employee Assistance Programs or programs that address physical health. But generally, mental health workshops are quite rare and unaffordable. The associated stigma can only add to the complexity. As a result, mental health is often tossed in the “too hard” basket.

Be intentional with your culture shift

Harnessing its wealth of experience of over 40 years in the mental health space, Holyoake established its Wellbeing@Work social enterprise three years ago. The primary objective was to help organisations to improve employee mental health.

Since then, Holyoake has facilitated Wellbeing@Work presentations and workshops for thousands of employees in many organisations. One of their key learnings has been that employee mental health cannot improve much without a genuine cultural shift in the organisation. The entire organisation must be committed to breaking down mental health stigma; role modelling from the top down is vital for success.

Make mental health education accessible

Besides stigma, Holyoake faced three other challenges in this space: time, distance and budget. Often organisations were keen to address employee mental health, but employees did not have time to attend workshops, or were scattered across sites, or the organisation did not have a budget. Your social enterprise may identify with some of these barriers.

Taking this ground reality into consideration, Holyoake invested considerable time and resources to develop a Wellbeing@Work Video Series.

This video series now gives organisations the flexibility to offer employees easy access to practical insights about mental health. They have the freedom to watch and learn anytime, anywhere in the privacy of their digital devices.

Keep work at work

Most of us are in the habit of checking emails at all hours of the day. Even when we’re not intentionally checking them, our phones are lighting up with notifications and our mind is kept occupied on work-related tasks. It’s important to keep work at work, and to separate work and play. By enforcing this at the management level, it will contribute to a better work culture.

Good workplace initiatives can help boost your bottom line, and as business owners, this is at the heart of almost everything we do (alongside social good of course!). The recent PwC Return on Investment Analysis revealed that employers can expect an average return of $2.30 for every $1 invested in creating a mentally healthy workplace. It’s important to keep this in mind when restructuring the business, shifting your workplace culture and/or setting expectations on you and your staff.

Jay Boolkin
Jay Boolkin

I'm passionate about positive social change and the power of social entrepreneurship to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. I believe that for-purpose business models can become part of the mainstream and I am enthusiastic about advocating for business models that are genuinely built around a social or environmental mission.

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