Post-pandemic Australia signals a shift to psychological health in the workplace

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One in five Australians (20.1 per cent/4.8 million) had reported mental or behavioural conditions in 2019 and evidence shows us that this has increased during 2020-2021 due to the pandemic. Statistics published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that between 16 March 2020 and 19 September 2021, 21.0 million MBS mental health-related services were processed nationally.  

Mental Health and Wellbeing is a major concern for Australian workplaces, due to its negative impacts on individuals. From 2000-2019 there has been a 221 per cent increase in the median compensation paid for mental stress issues, according to Safe Work Australia. The World Health Organisation found that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$1 trillion each year in lost productivity.  

Mental Health and Wellbeing is an undeniable issue that has been misunderstood in the business world – until recently, that is. Since the impact of COVID-19, there’s been a shift in focus, for companies and staff, towards people centric policies. 

The upcoming Workplace Health & Safety Show (25-26 May 2022) at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centreis more engaging than ever and aims to tackle the issue of psychological health in the workplace head on. The event includes an array of live, proactive discussions, seminars, Q&As and an interactional two-way educative experience with a key focus on psychological health and wellbeing. 

Presenting at the free Knowledge Centre Program held within the Workplace Health and Safety Show Melbourne is Jennifer Fry from WorkSafe Victoria who is the Director of WorkWell, a program aimed at supporting employers to prevent mental injury and create mentally healthy workplaces. Jennifer will present business case studies in primary prevention for creating mentally healthy workplaces.

Also presenting is Carli Phillips, Mental Health First Aider. Her offering includes a simple, easy to follow corporate wellbeing checklist, tips to make your program super-efficient, and action plans with ideas for a wellbeing calendar to ensure a mentally healthy workplace. 

Sue Jaunsey, founder of Appellon is presenting at the collocated AIHS National Conference on psychological health. Sue will provide a presentation highlighting the importance of understanding the body of evidence that exists within the discipline of behavioural and neuropsychology. 

Also featured in the co-located AIHS National Conference is Karen Walker from Culture Smart, presenting a case study on employees co-creating their workplace wellbeing strategy. Recent research by Deloitte found that the highest return on investment in workplace mental health and wellbeing initiatives, are those tailored to the needs of teams. It’s people who collectively create healthy and safe cultures, and teams working together who can deliver such a high return on investment – average of $7 for every dollar spent – on their team’s mental health. Karen’s presentation shares the journey and stories of healthcare workers co-creating their own workplace wellbeing strategy and the associated program blueprint and roadmap to deliver them. 

For too long society has shunned open discussions on mental health. But after two years of pandemic interruptions, this attitude is changing fast. Companies now see that looking after each other’s mental health not only contributes to a better workplace and indeed a better society, it also returns better economic outcomes.  Money spent in the area of improving mental health for employees should be treated as an investment, not an expense.  

Registration to attend the Workplace Health & Safety Show is free, register online at www.whss.com.au 

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