Being open with mental health issues is an excellent opportunity for senior managers to reflect upon their leadership style and how they can make a positive impact on the teams and individuals that they support.
Beyond blue commissioned research that found that two-thirds of the employees and leaders surveyed (67%) agreed that mental health at work is a shared responsibility.
The stigma of stigma
Every year, around 1 in 5 Australians adults suffer from a mental illness. Research suggests that many people who suffer from mental health problems feel isolated at times they most need help.
Mental health has a long history of stigma, discrimination and ignorance. Many are afraid to talk about their mental health issues for fear that they will be viewed negatively. Over half (56%) of Australians surveyed believe their senior leaders value mental health.
This stigma can make it difficult for people to seek the help and treatment that they need.
What can we do as a collective to change this situation?
Open up the conversation
It’s important to listen to and understand your people to help reduce stigma around mental health.
You can start by taking an active role in:
- Engage: Have open and honest discussions with your staff about mental health to reduce stigma.
- Connect: If you see someone struggling in your team and think they might need some support, start a discussion with them. Allow them to share their feelings, but let them know that this is a personal decision.
- Encouragement: Encourage team members who are experiencing stress to seek out existing services like the Employee Assistance Program and Beyond Blue.
Helping people to help themselves
Never underestimate your role in supporting mental health and well-being of your employees – not only during Mental Health Month, but on every day.
Beyondblue’s research shows that, while 81% of leaders who were surveyed worked in organisations with policies, procedures, or practices that support mental health in their workplaces, 35% of employees didn’t even know that these resources existed or weren’t able access them.
Leaders who care about the happiness and health of their employees are often considered to be good leaders. This commitment carries with it the responsibility to protect, maintain and promote the mental and physical health, safety and wellbeing of those you lead.
beyondblue. State of Workplace Mental Health [Online] Australia [Accessed September 2017] Available at: www.headsup.org.au
Mental Health Association NSW Inc. Stigma [Online; last updated Jul 2010; accessed Sep 2015] Available from: anzmh.asn.au
National Alliance on Mental Illness Mental health conditions (Online, accessed Sep 2015) Available at: www.nami.org
SANE Australia. Research report 1: Social isolation and mental illness [Online, accessed Sep 2015] Available at: www.sane.org
Time to Change Mental health and stigma [Online; accessed Sep 2015] Available from: www.time-to-change.org.uk