According to the findings of a new survey, an increasing number of workers all over Australia feel that their working environment is mentally unhealthy. This causes members of the workforce to take more number of sick days because of stress, anxiety and depression.
Employees say that employers neglect their mental wellbeing more than their physical safety while performing their jobs, with almost 50 percent of the 1126 subjects saying that they do not get enough help when it comes to personal or job-related mental issues.
More Sick Days
The study, which was conducted by TNS Global as commissioned by beyondblue, revealed that individuals who are employed in mentally unhealthy environments take twice as much sick days than the other workers.
Aside from that, the study also found that one out of five workers take time off of their work because they have been feeling mentally unwell during the past year. This has caused several health advocates and industry groups to urge employers to pay attention to the mental health of their staff, just like safety and physical health.
Mental health issues which are normally associated with jobs have cost many Australian businesses close to $11 billion annually in compensation claims, reduced work productivity and absenteeism, the study claimed.
Importance of a Mentally Healthy Environment
Jeff Kennett, the chairman of beyondblue, said that if the workplace is mentally healthy, it has the capacity to promote and protect the good wellbeing its workers, empowering the staff and promoting them to seek timely help for anxiety and depression, benefitting both the workers and employees in the long run.
He adds that employers are not only mandated by law to deliver health and occupational safety to their employees, they should also focus on mental health inside the workplace. It is their moral obligation to provide support to workers who spend most of their time inside the working venue.
Geoff Toogood, a 54-year-old Melbourne doctor, battled his way through severe depression last year following a divorce and other work-related stresses. The situation has unravelled his overall mental health. According to him, he found himself thinking about taking his own life but when he opened up to his own bosses, he felt neglected as they discouraged him to apply for a leave.
He said that he was not sleeping very well and would always find himself awake in the middle of the night, wallowing in intense sadness. Aside from this, he has to force himself to get up every morning in order to get to work.
However, when he had a minor stroke, he was able to take a break from work to recuperate for eight weeks.
He says that there are times when people need to take some time off in order to recover, to allow the body and the mind to rest.
Dr. Toogood acknowledges the fact that there is a certain stigma which surrounds mental health. Employees and employers alike need to be educated regarding its nature so that they would stop considering it as a sign of weakness.