How can you apply the findings to improve the mental health conditions in your own organisation?

08 November 2017

SuperFriend’s 2017 Indicators of a Thriving Workplace report includes many findings that all Australian employers can learn from. Here are three insights which can be practically applied to your workplace through the following strategies. The report itself also includes suggested strategies in each section.

1. Employees are scared of being marginalized in terms of work opportunities if they admit to having any mental health issues

We know that when people don’t make it known that they are experiencing mental health issues, we are unable to support them which can have drastically negative consequences in the worst cases. One of the biggest reasons people don’t reveal their mental health issues is this fear of how it will impact their professional reputation and chances of progression.


·         Put mental health on the table by communicating with your staff about your intentions to work with them to create a supportive, safe and open environment where people feel Indiccomfortable sharing their feelings and having these types of conversations. RUOK? Day can be a good prompt for this.

·         Download SuperFriend’s Peer Support Booklet to share with your employees. The booklet will inform employees about how to support a colleague who may be struggling and hopefully, lead to a more supportive and open workforce.

·         Actions speak louder than words – employers are the only people who can ensure their employees feel confident that they will not only be treated equally if they disclose that they’re experiencing mental health issues, but that they will be appropriately supported through it. You may not own the illness, but you will own its impact so a proactive response enables the best action for the person and the organisation. Communicate with staff regularly about your willingness to adapt conditions at work to their needs during periods of poorer mental health. Many employers use a fillable tool to lay out the employees needs and an action plan for how they agree to work together to accommodate the mental illness.


2. Employees (49%) believe that employers have a lack of understanding around mental health and wellbeing issues


·        Get your staff trained up about mental health: what signs of  mental health issues to look out for, how to support one another, the difference between performance issues and mental health issues, and ongoing strategies

·         Educate yourself! There is a wealth of resources about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace – why not start by finding out how mental illness can impact organisations and the benefits of committing to workplace mental health or reading up on the literature on the Heads Up website. To keep yourself regularly informed without having to seek the information, follow workplace mental health pages on social media:

SuperFriend’s Facebook
Sane Australia’s Facebook
Headspace’s Facebook
Mental Health Australia’s Facebook
Action for Happiness Twitter
Mental Health Aust’s Twitter
Black Dog Institute’s LinkedIn
Beyondblue’s LinkedIn


3. Employees (34%) believe employers don’t know where to start to improve mental health and wellbeing.


·         SuperFriend’s Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Workplace include evidence-based guidelines for organisations to use to promote positive mental health in the workplace. This resource provides practical tips on how to build a workplace environment where all employees can thrive and is an excellent starting point for employers wishing to improve the organisation’s mental health by building on the positive aspects of work.

·         The Victorian Workplace Mental Wellbeing Collaboration (VWMWC) (of which SuperFriend is a member) maintain an up-to-date library of practical workplace mental health resources for employers which meet strict standards of SuperFriend and our government and regulator VWMWC partners, VicHealth and WorkSafe Victoria.

·         Identify your advocates – in almost every workplace there are a number of employees who are passionate about improving the culture of the organization. Having the support of this cohort can make the world of difference to the formation of a successful strategy and gaining wider employee support for it. Why not form a Wellbeing Committee with the motivated staff member?


This article was featured in our monthly e-Newsletter SuperFriend News which provides practical advice for employers to guide them in creating positive, cohesive and productive environments for all employees.