86 per cent of Australian organisations have reported mental health issues are common or very common in the workplace, according to new research by Diversity Council Australia (DCA).
A survey of over 100 Australian employers found almost three quarters of organisations feel there is stigma attached to mental health issues, a factor Diversity Council Australia CEO Lisa Annese said costs business upwards of $10 billion per annum.
“In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and more than 2 million have anxiety. Untreated mental health conditions cost Australian employers $10.9 billion every year through absenteeism, reduced productivity and compensation claims. Clearly this is not something workplaces can ignore,” Ms Annese said.
“They must focus not only on building resilience but on actively supporting the range of mental health issues that people may be experiencing at work.”
The survey results found 77 per cent of businesses hold mental health in the workplace as a high priority, while 62 per cent have either developed or are in the process of developing a business case based around mental health.
74 per cent of organisations surveyed said they consider stigma to be commonly or very commonly attached to issues relating to mental health, yet only 49 per cent had strategies to tackle it.
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said businesses stand to benefit by focusing on mental health in the workplace.
“One in five Australian employees are experiencing a mental health difficulty right now, and common conditions like depression and anxiety don’t discriminate nor bypass people based on their job titles, age or gender,” Ms Harman said.
“Seeing this as an integral part of good business contributes to profound benefits in improved productivity, attraction and retention of great staff and profitability.”
The prevention of bullying was found to be the top mental health initiative being undertaken by organisations (97 per cent), followed by psychological support services (91 per cent) and the promotion of work-life balance (91 per cent).
The improvement of job design to maximise mental health (25 per cent) was highlighted as the least popular initiative, followed closely by the improvement of employment access for those with mental health issues (30 per cent).