Seminars aim to improve mental health in the workplace

STRESS: An estimated 52 per cent of workplaces are not "mentally healthy", according to beyondblue. Picture: Phillip Biggs
STRESS: An estimated 52 per cent of workplaces are not "mentally healthy", according to beyondblue. Picture: Phillip Biggs

A 2017 report by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that $12 billion is lost nationally due to mental health-related inefficiency in the workplace every year.

Studies by beyondblue reveal that only 52 per cent of workplaces in Australia are deemed as “mentally healthy”. 

These statistics are behind the reason for the Institute Managers and Leaders choice of topic for its annual Leadership Outlook series.

“I don’t think there’s anything more relevant right now in business than mental health in the workplace,” IML chief executive David Pich said.

“We’re seeing too many organisations, managers and leaders that shy away from doing anything about [mental health] and engaging in conversations about it.

“That’s what we want the seminars to be about – demystifying mental health in the workplace.”

The 18-location seminar series, by the IML and beyondblue, will visit Launceston and Hobart in March. 

Among the speakers in Launceston will be Breece Gevaux – Tasmania’s senior military recruiting office for the Australian Defence Force. 

Mr Gevaux provides ongoing mental health strategies for servicemen and women.

“Mental health should be seen a bit like going to the dentist – something we all do every six  to 12 months,” he said.

“Just like every other workplace there are causes of stress to do with people and the environment you’re working with.

“We obviously have the added strength of dealing with operational deployment and being away from family.

“We offer a range of strategies, from psychologists to alternative solutions like meditation or just doing more exercise.”

However, he said you did not need to be involved in armed conflict to make use of mental health strategies. 

“Even in normal workplaces you still have workplace stressors and it’s usually through interactions and conflict in the workplace,” he said. 

Mr Pich added that poor communication between staff and employees was a key reason for workplace-caused anxiety and depression. 

He said the IML forum would give practical strategies for business owners, managers and workers to make their companies “mentally healthy”. 

“Every workplace has its little first-aid kit in the corner, which is rarely used, but every workplace also needs a mental health first-aid kit,” he said.

“The objective is to give people practical things they can do and assess the mental health of their staff.”

The forum will be at Country Club Tasmania at 12pm on March 2.

For mental health support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

*The original version called the IML the International and Leaders instead of Institute of Managers and Leaders.