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Companies need support to manage mental health in the workplace

Companies need support to manage mental health in the workplace

Now more than ever companies need the support to manage mental health issues in the workplace. A recent survey reported in the Australian Financial Review found mental health issues in the workplace have risen 56 percent in the last year.

The survey by law firm Minter Ellison found that one-third of the 200 companies surveyed recorded more than 15 cases of staff experiencing mental health issues in the previous 12 months. If one in five working Australians are experiencing a mental health condition at any given time then we are going to see these numbers increasingly play out in the workplace.

Depression and anxiety were the most common issues reported in this survey. At AccessEAP, we are seeing a similar pattern in our own data. Anxiety is the number one presenting issue with 34 percent of employees reporting they are seeing a counsellor for anxiety, followed by 20 percent who are experiencing feelings of depression.

The numbers are alarming, yet many companies are not taking action to promote good mental health in the workplace with the survey reporting 74 percent lacked formal and specific mental health policies and procedures. This is where an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can play an essential role.

It is encouraging to see an increase in the number of cases, from the perspective that more employees are opening up and talking about the difficulties they face with regards to their mental health. With that increase, companies are going to need the support to be able to help those dealing with mental health issues.

EAPs can provide a framework to support all levels of staff in understanding the way to manage and cope with certain stresses affecting individuals in the workplace. This includes, for managers how to recognise the signs and being equipped with the knowledge and tools to be able to support staff and to have conversations about mental health concerns with staff.

Let’s hope that we start to see an increase in companies working with EAPs to champion mental health awareness. It is important that we work together to break down the stigma and recognise and attend to mental health issues in the same way compassion and care is shown for colleagues with a physical injury. It can happen to any one of us.

At AccessEAP, we not only provide support, education and guidance to companies, but also self-care for individuals so they are empowered to look at their own mental health and make it a priority. Companies adopting this approach would see improvement in workplace place mental health in the way of increased productivity and decreased absenteeism and presenteeism.

It’s in the interests of companies to take action to promote mentally healthy workplaces, but they need the right support to be able to do so. EAPs can assist companies in identifying the key risks in their business and together develop strategies to implement so that companies and their employees can manage mental health proactively.