Author: Milly Ashworth/Sunday, January 24, 2021/Categories: Quinton Anthony

It is currently estimated that mental illness is costing Australian workplaces approximately $10.9 billion annually, with one in five employees reporting that they have taken time off work due to feeling mentally unwell.

There is now growing recognition of the negative impact that mental health issues have on the wellbeing of staff, and given the current global climate, businesses must now, more than ever, be proactively dealing with these issues in order to improve overall employee wellbeing and productivity.

Mindful in May is the world’s largest online mindfulness fundraising campaign. Founded by Melbourne-based Dr Elise Bialylew, the movement aims to raise money for clean water projects by encouraging people to practise mindfulness mediation for at least 10 minutes a day in May to build a foundation for improved mental health.

Mindfulness is one of many ways to support better mental health and has become a popular practice in recent years. With mentally healthy workplaces now just as important to 91% of Australian employees as physically safe workplaces, businesses must proactively adapt and encourage a healthy workplace environment.

"A mentally healthy workplace is one that protects and promotes mental health and empower people to seek help for any mental health issues, for the benefit of the individual, organisation and community." 

Research by Beyond Blue shows that the larger the organisation is, the lower employees rate their workplace as extremely mentally healthy. Although the majority (81%) of organisations offer information or initiatives promoting workplace mental health, many employees are unaware of the resources or do not have access to them.

One method of employer support can come in the shape of an Employee Assistance Program, which can help employers provide a safer and more caring work environment by enabling employees to have immediate and easy access to help. By giving staff access to an EAP to support their mental health, businesses have also seen a positive return on their investment of up to $2.30 per $1 an organisation spends, through increased work productivity and employee engagement.

"By proactively offering an EAP service, employees can have easy and affordable access to counselling – avoiding the escalation of stress build up." 

Conversations about mental health are difficult to have, but in these trying times it has become imperative that we prioritise positive mental health. As our personal and professional lives become more intertwined it is important to ensure that we are all working towards improving our mental health, whether it is through mindfulness or speaking to a professional.

"It is okay to not be okay."

We are pleased to provide our own EAP at QA through AccessEAP which has been received positively by all involved. Employees most commonly go to AccessEAP for help with stress, anxiety and depression, which can all greatly benefit from early intervention and management. This makes the role of the workplace in supporting mental wellbeing essential. It is more important than ever to encourage employees to get this support as 40% of sufferers don’t seek professional help for their condition. 
"It’s important to remember that we are not born resilient." 

We can develop coping strategies, including practiced traits and learned behaviours that will help us remain positive and deal with new challenges. Experienced clinical professionals at AccessEAP can help you with these strategies, guiding you along the way. Mindfulness can be one of the several tools in your resilience kit, giving you the chance to take a breath, pause, listen and stay connected. 

For more information on how an EAP can improve a workplace visit: https://www.accesseap.com.au/resources/accesseap-blog/workplaces-need-to-stand-up-to-australian-mental-health-crisis-1