Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all” – Bill Clinton

Mental health in many workplaces has been stigmatized. There really is only one way to reduce this negativity – by talking and learning about it. 

  • Run a mental health awareness session for staff – highlight the prevalence and symptoms
  • Introduce mental health topics into toolbox talks or monthly meetings
  • Invite a guest speaker with lived experience in to chat
  • Have management lead by example


Learning to Lead

Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to – Richard Branson

The relationship between supervisory roles and front line staff plays a pivotal role in the psychological risk in a workplace. Many supervisors are great at their jobs but lack the required skills needed to ‘manage’ their team. Implement further skills training:

  • Mental health first aid and mental health literacy 
  • Emotional intelligence skills
  • Train and encourage psychological risk assessment skills
  • Encourage regular ‘catch-ups’ in place of yearly formal Performance Evaluations


Organizational Change

Employees notice when managers, business owners and the leadership value a certain aspect of organizational culture. Making real, visual and communicated changes parts a key part in promoting good mental health in the workplace:

  • Policy inclusion and acknowledgement of mental health as with physical health
  • Structured approach to mental health injuries in line with physical injuries
  • Include staff consultation and inclusion with reducing psychological risks
  • Ensure ‘ownership’ of mental health issues within the business
  • Create and communicate an integrated wellbeing strategy


Designing Jobs

The amount of autonomy, control, variety, challenge, responsibility and personal development in a workers assigned job plays an important role in preventing psychological injury. Effective job design includes:

  • A manager check list to help design roles based on employee’s satisfaction, skills, motivation and productivity
  • Encouraging managers to have ongoing conversations with staff involving their roles
  • Approaching job design to focus on the positive aspects of work

Managing Poor Health

Mental health has such a complex relationship between work and home that it can be almost impossible to avoid mental injury/illness. The workplaces role then becomes one of early intervention and support. Consider the following:

  • Return to work policies and procedures that place increased emphasis on positive mental health (either preventative or through assistance)
  • EAP marketing and communication to staff
  • Mental health literacy for return to work coordinators
  • Flexibility in roles, tasks and conditions for staff

The only shameful thing about mental illness is the stigma attached to it.