Kennett urges work health boost

BEYONDBLUE chairman and former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett yesterday issued a challenge for Launceston's business community that came with a warning: he will be back.

Mr Kennett was in town to kick off the national mental health organisation's  Take 1 Step  campaign, encouraging business leaders and employers to create mentally healthy workplaces.

And he said he would be holding them to account.

Mr Kennett said his visit was timely in the wake of new Roy Morgan research, which found that 21.5 per cent of Tasmanians over the age of 14 had experienced depression or an anxiety condition in the past year.

``Some of that will be created from the workforce, some through personal circumstances, some of that will be from anxiety related to employment,'' Mr Kennett said.

``It's a range of factors, but we do need to address them.

``The last thing to see is the community's opportunities restricted because of mental illnesses that either lessen a person's ability to contribute, or end up with them taking their lives. It's such a waste.''

Mr Kennett said Tasmania was the first stop in beyondblue's 12-month national roadshow.

He said he hoped his visit would encourage employers to take responsibility for the mental health of their workforce, while doing things like conducting anonymous surveys to identify issues they needed to act on, and occasionally organising social activities.

Mr Kennett said he expected guests at yesterday's luncheon to act on his advice.

``It's one thing to get people to attend the first time, it's more important to come back in six months' time, get them all back again and ask them what they've done,'' Mr Kennett said.

``So if they think they're coming here for a pleasant lunch and a discussion and they don't have to respond, I'll be back.''

 If you need help or counselling contact Lifelink Samaritans 1300 364 566, Lifeline 131 114, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800, MensLine Australia 1300 789 978, the StandBy Response Service 24-hour number on 0408 133 884 or   beyondblue on 1300 224 636

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