Male and female office workers in a meeting.

How to create a mentally healthy workplace

(15 October 2021) October is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great opportunity as a workplace to review what you are doing to create a mentally healthy workplace.  

A mentally healthy workplace has a positive workplace culture where people feel supported and able to do their best work, regardless of whether or not they have a mental health condition. A mentally healthy workplace places the same importance on mental and physical health and safety in the workplace.

Mental health conditions affect one in five Australians so it's possible there are people in your workplace who are experiencing conditions such as depression and anxiety. Untreated mental health conditions have an impact on workplaces and individuals through reduced productivity, absenteeism and work injury claims.

The four key areas

While all workplaces are different, the following key action areas provide guidance on how to create and maintain a mentally healthy workplace:

  1. Raise awareness

    Talk openly about mental health, provide training, make mental health information available and promote available support services.

  2. Support individuals

    Provide leaders, managers and workers with the appropriate skills and confidence to approach someone they are concerned about, have a conversation and provide ongoing support.

  3. Reduce risks

    Review the workplace to identify risk factors to mental health and take action to reduce these risks. For example, managing workloads to minimise stress, preventing bullying and discrimination and managing workplace change.

  4. Provide effective return to work
  5. Assist workers with a mental health condition to remain at or return to work by developing a stay at or return to work plan, making reasonable workplace adjustments and providing support as needed.

Taking the next steps

How do you put the four key focus areas into action?

The first step is to evaluate how mental health is being addressed in your workplace and identify priority areas for action. By developing an action plan, you will be taking a positive step in creating a mentally healthy workplace.

Visit the mentally healthy workplaces section of our website for other useful tools, resources and support services to help you take action.

You can also sign your business up to take part in the Business SA Mental Health Workplace Challenge which is happening throughout October.