Are you comfortable talking about your mental health in the workplace?
Duration: 02:48| Size: 201.57 MB
Corporate Australia is feeling the impact of Australia’s declining state of health and wellbeing. While almost one in two Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, less than half will seek help – and people don’t leave their health issues behind when they come to work. Executives may feel unprepared to support team members dealing with mental health issues, so how can leaders create a supportive workplace for all employees while still driving performance?
We’ve been partnering with organisations to help them better understand and address the wellbeing of their employees – and regardless of the type of business or size of organisation, the most important factor is creating an environment where employees feel safe to show up to work as themselves, supported to perform at their best.
This psychological safety comes from the everyday impacts people experience; such as team members behaving respectfully towards each other, organisational values that align to employees’ personal values, non-verbal cues in the workplace, and people being open and honest about their mental health.
As Beyond Blue CEO, Georgie Harman says, “People who live with mental health issues are not different to us – they are us.”
Creating this psychological safety is every leader’s responsibility. Leaders have to be open and vulnerable themselves, and walk the talk, like leaving loudly and maintaining their own work life balance to manage their own mental health. They need to respond with compassion when employees come to them with an issue either personal or professional.
We all need help around our mental health strategy as everyone is under some form of pressure. Peak performance mind coach Emma Murray worked with the Richmond Football Club and helped them tweak their approach to one that prioritised mindfulness and put it into the schedule. She highlights mobile phones as a potential source of stress, recommending people stop looking at their phone first thing in the morning “as it immediately puts you in your B-game.”
Kris Webb, Chief People Officer at Coles believes the change around the approach to mental health is that more women are in leadership and are softening the approach. “Mental health is not an epidemic. It was always there, it’s just that people are starting to talk about it.” She believes it’s her purpose to help people live outrageously rewarding lives.
At Medibank, our focus is on ensuring all our employees feel safe and supported to prioritise their health and wellbeing. We back this up with leading policies for flexible working, parental leave and domestic violence leave, and tailored interventions and awareness programs in the mental health space. We believe that healthier employees are happier and more productive, so it makes good business sense to invest in employee wellbeing.
*Mike Connell hosted a panel discussion with Emma, Georgie and Kris as part of Medibank’s Work Better, Live Better series *