What is a mentally healthy workplace?

In a mentally healthy workplace, people feel supported, happy coming to work and comfortable talking about mental health. A mentally healthy workplace is generally one in which:

  • there is a positive workplace culture and an understanding that mental health is everyone’s responsibility
  • stress and other risks to mental health are managed
  • people feel safe and supported to talk about mental health
  • mental health support is tailored for individuals and teams.

Benefits of creating a mentally healthy workplace

Creating a mentally healthy workplace has many benefits to the people around you as well as your business operations. It's also a legal requirement for business owners.

The benefits include:

  • less staff absenteeism and lost working days
  • increased productivity
  • greater job satisfaction
  • reduced staff turnover
  • you attract talented workers.

Work health and safety obligations

As a business owner, you have a duty under work health and safety (WHS) laws to manage risks to your workers’ mental health arising from their work. You’re legally required to look after your workers' mental health under a variety of laws. This includes:

  • Providing a physically and mentally safe workplace and managing any risks to the mental health of your workers arising from the work of your business (WHS laws).
  • Preventing discrimination against workers with a mental health condition (anti-discrimination laws).
  • Protecting your workers’ personal information – don't tell anyone about your workers’ mental health conditions unless they agree to it (privacy laws).
  • Not taking any unfair action against someone because of their mental health condition (fair work laws).

Manage mental health risks

Risks to mental health can be managed through the same process as you use for physical risks:

  • identify the hazards
  • assess the risks
  • control the risks
  • continually review the control measures to make sure they are working.

As with physical risks, you should involve and consult your workers throughout this process. Your workers are a great source of information on the risks in their work and options to manage these.

To identify the hazards:

  • have regular conversations with your workers to find out how they are
  • understand causes of stress in the workplace and manage them
  • look out for signs of stress in your workers.

Stress is the physical, mental and emotional reactions you have when the demands of your job exceed your ability or resources to cope. Stress itself is not an injury but if prolonged or severe can cause psychological and physical injury.

Promote good mental health in your business

There are simple steps you can take to build and promote a mentally healthy workplace:

  1. Protect your employees from bullying, harassment or discrimination.
  2. Ensure your staff have the right level of training and support.
  3. Talk to your employees about mental health in the workplace - be open about mental health and check in to see how they are going.
  4. Provide a healthy work/life balance.
  5. Make sure your employees know where to go for help.
  6. Look after yourself - running a business can be tough, but there is help available.

Check out this video to learn why it's important.

The importance of mentally healthy workplaces

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