Understand the signs of a positive and mentally healthy workplace, and what you can do to prevent harm and create safe spaces.
The WorkWell Toolkit provides
Practical step by step ideas, tips and suggestions to help employers of different sizes prevent mental injury and create a safe and mentally healthy workplace. Use tools, templates and resources to focus on work-related factors that impact mental health and learn good practice. Check out the full range of topics on the Toolkit.
Step 1: Learn about workplace mental health
Employers have a legal responsibility to provide and maintain a workplace that is safe and free from risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes psychological health and safety. You can also think about this as mental health.
Psychological health and safety can feel like a big concept, but it doesn't have to be. Simply put, it's about:
Doing things that promote positive mental health at work, and
Doing things that prevent harm to mental health as a result of work.
Mental health is 'a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community' (United Nations, 2017).
In this Toolkit topic, you'll learn about how to create a positive and mentally healthy workplace. In the next Toolkit topic, we'll step you though how to prevent harm to mental health, or manage it where it is unavoidable.
Key stats and facts
Of working Victorians have admitted to leaving a workplace due to a poor environment in terms of mental health
Heads Up (Beyond Blue), Instinct and Reason – Employer of Choice study, 2014
Return on every dollar spent creating a mentally healthy workplace.
PWC, Beyond Blue National Mental Health Commission, 2014
Step 2: Understand the signs of a mentally healthy workplace
A mentally healthy workplace is one where employees feel respected, supported and safe to speak up. They're given the appropriate tools, resources and training to thrive in their roles, and when they leave for the day, they are mentally and psychologically no worse off than how they arrived – perhaps a little more tired though, no doubt!
In a mentally healthy workplace:
mental health is everyone's responsibility
mental health is considered in every way you do business
everyone contributes to a culture where people feel safe and supported to talk about mental health
reasonable adjustments are made to support the mental health needs of individuals and teams
Step 3: How to promote a positive and mentally healthy workplace
There are many factors in the workplace that are within the control and influence of employer and that can be used to promote a positive and mentally healthy workplace. In fact, there are 11 well known factors. We've listed these in the drop down menu below:
But first, check out this video for a quick introduction to these work-related factors that impact mental health!
Work-related factors that promote positive mental health
Workplace incidents which expose people to abuse, or the threat of harm, or actual harm, can cause fear and distress which can lead to stress and injury. Different people find different events traumatic, so all employees are at risk of experiencing workplace trauma. Trauma doesn't just affect the employees who are there at the time. Hearing stories about distressing incidents can result in second-hand trauma ('vicarious trauma') for some people.
Encouraging and promoting these factors at work will lead to a positive and mentally healthy workplace, where everyone can thrive. A mentally healthy workplace isn't just good for people though, it's good for business too. Workplaces that invest in positive mental health see increased productivity, improved workplace culture, reduced staff turnover and increased client satisfaction.
Step 4: What happens when factors that impact mental health aren't managed well?
If not managed well, these factors can become hazards and pose a risk to the physical and psychological health of employees. An employee who remains at work despite experiencing poor mental health can lead to lower productivity, reduced morale and increased absences and mental injury claims. It could even lead to staff resignations, requiring additional time and money to hire and train new staff in resignations, requiring additional time and money to hire and train new staff.
The diagram below shows you the relationship between a positive and mentally healthy workplace where these work-related factors are promoted, and a psychologically unsafe workplace when these factors are not managed well, leading to harm.
In the next Toolkit topic we show you how to prevent and manage these hazards, and prevent harm to mental health occurring. Interestingly, some of these hazards are actually always present, and can’t be prevented, but harm can be.
Let's get started with learning about how to prevent mental injuries.
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