Australia’s business leaders identify workplace mental health as a major cause of illness and lost productivity but most admit they don’t know enough about the issue, according to a new study by beyondblue.
The survey, conducted by Instinct and Reason and unveiled by beyondblue today, provides a snapshot of the attitudes of more than 500 business owners, leaders and managers towards workplace mental health. It suggests that Australian business leaders view workplace mental health as a major problem – but most say they don’t know how to tackle it, leaving Australia’s workers at risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
The study was commissioned to inform Heads Up, an Australian-first campaign launched by beyondblue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance last week to encourage business leaders to take action on mental health problems such as depression and anxiety in the workplace. The new survey paints a stark and sometimes contradictory picture of attitudes towards mental health among business leaders and its impact on Australia’s 11.5 million workers. Major findings including:
- 89 per centof business leaders think Australian businesses need practical support in how to tackle workplace mental health issues.
- 84 per cent agree the business community needs a campaign to raise awareness of workplace mental health issues
- 45 per centthink workplace mental health is a problem, but not a major cost to the business, while 43 per centagree that businesses have many more important issues to think about
- 74 per centthink that mental health problems are a major cause of sickness, absence and lost productivity.
- 54 per centagree they are not well informed about good mental health policies and practices in the workplaces.
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the results reinforce the need to equip Australian businesses with better information about mental health in the workplace.
“It is concerning that most business leaders feel uninformed about workplace mental health, but heartening that they acknowledge there is a problem and say they need support,” she said. “On the other hand, we still think the impact of these problems is underestimated by leaders when more than four in 10 are not prioritising this issue. beyondblue last week released research that showed categorically that mental health is a major cost to business. Businesses know this is a big issue but they just need more information and guidance, which is why we have launched Heads Up.”
As part of the Heads Up campaign, from mid-June the newly launched Heads Up website will be launched that provides concerned business owners with a tailor-made action plan they can use to introduce effective mental health strategies into their workplace. Harman urges all Australian employers to visit the site and register their interest.
Like My Business on Facebook now to get involved in the SME community discussion.
Follow @mybusinessau on Twitter for breaking stories throughout the day.
Learn more about the SME Association of Australia, of which My Business is the official publication.