Short term v Long term focus on Mental Health at Work

Corporate Australia is trying to get ahead of an increased mental health wave in the workplace.

A few years ago, the best some businesses offered was fresh fruit bowls in the crib room and neck and shoulder massages at lunchtime. All this in the name of mental health. It was a long bow then and remains so today. However, our work in the various industries and workplaces around Australia suggest things are changing and will constantly need to change to help organisations address all things mental health.

A short-term focus has now been replaced by the need for a longer-term view. It will take years to overcome the underinvestment in psychological safety at work, however if employers begin now, they can earn the appreciation and loyalty of their employees, as well as comply with the new legislation. They will also be supporting their most valuable asset in their time of need.

Even with the best intentions, organisations find it tough to act on mental health at work – without a clear picture to start with. There are a few elements that we believe will get things moving in the right direction.

  • Things that are measured and receive management attention result in accountability, and workplace mental health is no different.
  • An organisation’s actions to address mental health matters will be significant only if business leaders and senior management ensure continuity of effort and follow-through.
  • It must be a long-term commitment and ultimately become part of the fabric of the organisation.
  • There must be an overt shift in psychological safety being viewed in strategic terms away from the individual and treatment, to the organisation and prevention.

There is a collective understanding that it is more difficult to address psychological issues in the workplace. It is more complicated. We are all learning about how to get a better set of processes in place.

Currently, there is increasing guidance being made available as to how best to handle these matters. However, one-off reactionary responses to mental health matters as they arise, still appears to be the preferred approach. This must change.

A fragmented response does not allow evidence to be gained, nor data collected on what may be the best and most sustainable approach for your business. It also makes it near impossible to evaluate how your business is going in managing mental health in the workplace and how far you may be away from creating a safe psychological work environment.

If you are unsure how to get things moving, let’s start a conversation as we can help you get started.

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