The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) has officially launched a new national approach by business, community and government to encourage Australian workplaces to become mentally healthy for the benefit of the whole community and businesses. The group is called Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance.
The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance is a major collaboration of the business sector, the mental health sector and the government. The group will provide the business sector with practical guidance on mental health designed to drive sustainable changes in business culture and practice. Currently they are developing an evidence-based business case for promoting mentally healthy workplaces.
The alliance has a strong list of founding members. They are the Safe Work Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Psychological Society, beyondblue, the Black Dog Institute, the Business Council of Australia, Comcare, the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia, the Mental Health Council of Australia, SANE Australia and the University of New South Wales.
The alliance envisions all and every Australian workplace actively promoting a mentally healthy workplace. Their members believe that mentally healthy workplaces can contribute to the mental health of all Australians. If every workplace is mentally healthy, an increased productivity can surely be expected.
NMHC Chairman Allan Fels said that the alliance sees Australian workplaces realizing fully the benefits of mentally healthy workplaces to individuals, businesses and the community. Chairman Fels reported that mental illness in Australia costs the economy over $20 billion a year. A recent research from SANE Australia shows that majority of the people feel unsupported when mentally unwell. Also, less than half of managers (43 percent) have an understanding of mental illness. Hence, with almost half of Australians likely to experience a mental illness in their lifetime, the importance of having mentally healthy workplaces must all the more be considered.
Chairman Fels believes that mentally healthy workplaces will prevent harm to the mental health of the people by making sure that those who experience mental health difficulties are supported, and through positive cultures that are conducive to mental wellbeing. He believes that if a business will invest in mental health, they will be more productive, innovative and likely to recruit and retain the best and brightest people. Actually, there are already many businesses who have incorporated good practices regarding mental health and wellbeing into their operations. The task of the alliance is to learn from them and promote to other organizations that can implement relevant strategies and good workplace culture.
The alliance has organized a program called The Call for Good Practice, to draw all Australian businesses to share their experiences in promoting mental wellbeing. It is open to all businesses until 28 July at www.workplacementalhealth.com.au. The alliance believes that it will help inform the development of practical resources for businesses to be released later in the year. Aside from this program, the alliance plans to perform research on evidence-based actions which contribute to creating mentally healthy workplaces (by the University of New South Wales), and to create a report by PwC on the return on investment for creating mentally healthy workplaces.