By Christi Malthouse
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it sure feels like spring!
So have you ever thought about giving your workplace a spring clean? Not the ‘dust the cobwebs, sort the files, and vacuum into the corners’ type of clean, but a mental health cleanse and polish.
With many workplaces across Victoria preparing for a return to onsite duties, and other states sorting through a new workplace “COVID normal” plan, now more than ever is the time to facilitate, enhance, and implement practices that support the health and wellbeing of your employees.
The workplace is the source of a great deal of stress for many Australians. And ongoing and excessive stress can be damaging to your mental health.
Mental health issues cost Australian businesses over $10 billion a year and are the leading cause of absenteeism, presenteeism, and staff turnover.
But, according to Headsup – a BeyondBlue workplace health organisation – investing in the mental health and wellbeing of your employees can create a more positive and productive workplace.
Headsup tells us that in the workplace stress can occur when there is a mismatch between the requirements of the role, capabilities, and resources and supports available.
This in turn can affect relationships and life outside of work. Fatigue and mood swings can be signs of developing anxiety and depression.
Professor Greg Murray, Director of Swinburne University’s Centre for Mental Health says, “Work and home life are of course inter-related. Challenges at work disturb our wellbeing at home, and vice versa.”
“Some people in workplaces are living with mental health disorders, and it is important that workplaces are supportive of these valuable workers,” says Professor Murray.
So this is where the spring clean comes in.
To create a work environment that promotes mental wellbeing begins with ditching the stigma once associated with mental health issues. And it means making mental health a priority for all.
A workplace mental health strategy requires commitment, participation, and communication from the top to the bottom. Professor Murray says there are three key challenges to work through.
“Firstly, efforts to decrease mental health stigma are critical. Make sure that flexible working arrangements are in place to help people manage their health. Providing training in mental health literacy is one simple strategy that can help a workplace be more embracing of workers with mental health disorders.” says Murray.
“Secondly, we want to make sure that workplace stress is monitored and managed by finding a sustainable balance between productivity and health, which can include setting limits on the daily hours of receiving emails, and having clear strong processes for complaints about colleagues.”
“Finally, we spend much of our waking lives at work, so it is important to think of work as an opportunity for flourishing in life. Positive psychology reminds us that humans need meaning and value in their lives and work is an important forum for achieving this. Opportunities for socialising and connection can also improve this sense of enjoying work.”
Wellbeing initiatives – like Readiness – aim to increase awareness around mental health and wellbeing, while providing tools for early intervention and ongoing support within the workplace.
So, the next time you hear a bird singing take it as a cue to get out the vacuum and polish and look into a wellbeing strategy, and allow a mental health spring clean to bring your workplace back to life.
Readiness – readiness.org.au
Headsup – headsup.org.au
Swinburne University, Centre for Mental Health – swinburne.edu.au/research/mental-health
Learn more about how Readiness can assist your workplace or school with identifying the early indicators of mental health or wellness issues.