Providing workplace mental health support services is an essential organisational requirement given the introduction of the Model Code of Practice on Managing Psychosocial Hazards at work and that the most recent evidence suggests that at least 1 in 6 of your employees is currently experiencing a mental health issue.
This means that it is in the interests of your organisation to ensure appropriate mental health training for managers and that effective workplace mental health support services and processes are in place.
This is important for both legal and moral reasons. From a legal perspective, providing adequate workplace mental health support services ensures you are meeting your workplace health and safety obligations with respect to supporting psychological health and wellbeing, and managing the risk of psychosocial hazards. Further, from a workplaces moral obligations perspective, linking employees to workplace mental health support services facilitates employees getting the support they need to address their issues and get back on track as quickly as possible.
And of course – there is a great business benefit to providing access to workplace mental health support services to staff. Effective workplace mental health support services help employees to constructively manage their mental health, keeping your employees healthier, happier, more productive and engaged.
So, let’s take a look at the best ways you can provide workplace mental health support services in your organisation.
Staff Options for Workplace Mental Health Support Services
One of the most positive and powerful strategies that a workplace can take to promote positive mental health is to encourage employees to access the workplace mental health support services available to them when they may need it.
Providing workplace mental health support services that are easy to access, available when and where they are needed, and founded on the most recent evidence and best-practice approaches encourages people to seek the support they need and openly reduces stigma associated with mental health conditions.
The best workplaces will provide:
1.Mental Health Training for Managers
Providing mental health training for managers offers them the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills of their direct people leaders to appropriately support mental health issues.
Ensuring managers have the capability, through mental health training for managers, ensures they can direct staff to relevant internal or external workplace mental health support services.
Mental health training for managers should include information on:
- Causes, signs, symptoms and treatment of the most common mental health conditions;
- How to have an effective mental health conversation; and
- How to access workplace mental health support services, including effectively referring staff to internal and external support services that are available to them.
When well trained and supported by a positive mental health organisational culture, managers can also work with the employee to implement practical workplace support measures (e.g., arranging leave or making reasonable adjustments to the employee’s role and responsibilities if required). Such mental health training for managers encourages staff to talk to their direct line manger knowing they are well equipped to provide practical assistance.
2.Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
Workplace mental health support services that include EAP provides employees with a confidential and easy to access service. EAP cannot be underestimated as an effective part of an organisation’s strategy for implementing best practiceworkplacemental health support services.
EAP should be:
- Easily and independently accessible – it is important that the availability of EAP is promoted though inductions, information flyers both printed out and available on-line, and periodic reminders about the service from leadership.
- Confidential– the best EAP programs are strictly confidential. An employee needs to be able to access support without fear of their privacy being violated. Whilst an organisation will typically receive general reports from their EPA provider regarding volume and type of treatment provided, no personal identifiers should be included
3.Mental Health Resources
Available as needed, mental health resources such as fact sheets, informative videos, practical advice, and advice on where to go for further help – can be made available to staff in a manner that is easily, independently,’ and privately accessible.
For example, organisations providing access to mental health resources as part of their workplace mental health support services can provide an online ‘eToolkit’, such as on the organisation’s intranet, can be accessed by employees when and where they are needed.
4.Referral Options to Workplace Mental Health Support Services
Through mental health training for managers and other relevant leadership roles, such as, HSE, HR, and First Aid personnel, it is helpful to ensure that staff have a solid working knowledge of what mental health support services are available within the community.
For example, as part of best practice, relevant senior staff can be made aware to provide the following recommendations to staff struggling with their mental health:
- Make an appointment with their GP – GPs are a helpful initial gateway to accessing mentalhealth treatment. GPs can provide immediate diagnosis, support, a management plan, and a referral if necessary.
- Mental Health Professional – engage with a qualified, registered and experienced mental health professional such as a Psychologist, Counsellor or Psychiatrist. Whilst individuals can typically access qualified and experienced mental health professionals directly, as noted above, GPs are often a good starting point to make the appropriate referral to other mental health professionals.
- Community Organisations: there are many organisations inthe community available for mental health crisis or ongoing support. For example:
– Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – a crisis support and suicide prevention phone counselling service
– Relationships Australia –1300 364 277 – www.relationships.org.au– Relationships Australia provides relationship support services to enhance human and family relationships.
Workplace mental health support services, including mental health training for managers help provide staff with the help and resources they need to look after their own mental health, and ultimate create a mentally healthier workplace for all. In fact, given the prevalence of employees who experience a mental health condition at any one point in time, it makes good business sense to provide workplace mental health support services.
If you or someone you know needs help contact your organisation´s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), your GP or call LifeLine on 13 11 14; Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800; MensLineAustralia on 1300 789 978; Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this document is not intended to be legal advice and should not be interpreted as such. Managers and businesses should seek appropriate counsel from relevant HR and legal personnel if they do not feel they have the applied knowledge for lawfully managing mental health issues in the workplace. In addition to the information provided, it is important to be fully aware of all relevant legislations and the requirements in your specific state or territory and your organisations applicable policies and procedures.