‘Band-Aid’ approach failing to support mental health

by Chloe Taylor07 Oct 2015
Employers are failing to support the mental health of their workforces by taking a “Band-Aid” approach and in some cases bullying sufferers, a Perth-based mental health consultant has claimed.

The assertion comes amid Mental Health Week, which occurs this year from October 4 to October 11.

According to Tasha Broomhall, founder of Blooming Minds, the majority of employers in Australia only begin discussing mental health when issues arise. Some even resort to bullying and discriminating against those affected, she suggested.

“Discussions with employers have revealed that workers are bullied, discriminated against and even have their issues dismissed when mental health problems are disclosed,” she said.

Blooming Minds is an organisation which partners with businesses around Australia to improve mental health initiatives.

“We hear a lot about the increasing suicide rate and that being a motivator for initiatives that get employees access to help if and when they need it,” Broomhall continued.

“All that’s doing is slapping a band-aid on the problem – it’s all reactionary and we’re not doing anything to stop the problems in the first place.”

Broomhall advised that employers should be looking at preventative measures to ensure that their work environments support strong mental health, rather than focusing on negative statistics.

“Taking a reactionary approach is costing businesses a lot more than if they carefully considered ways to create a positive work environment,” she said.

PwC’s report, Creating a mentally healthy workplace, estimated that untreated mental health issues cost Australian workplaces $10.9 billion in lost productivity each year.

The report also found that for every dollar invested on preventative mental health initiatives, businesses received $2.30 ROI.

“It simply makes good businesses sense to invest upfront – the sooner employers realise this the better,” Broomhall said.

She added that she is constantly faced with senior managers who are unaware of how to recognise a mental health problem.

“Nearly half of all senior managers believe that none of their workers will experience a mental health problem in the workplace,” Broomhall said.

“This is pretty alarming considering one in five adults experience mental health problems every year.”

According to Broomhall, preventative initiatives are especially important for industries which rely on their employees working unsociable or long hours.

Last month, the Minerals Council of Australia launched the Mining Industry Blueprint for Mental Health, which has a focus on preventative mental health.

“We spend the majority of our waking hours at work, so employers have a duty to ensure the work environment is conducive to good mental health,” said Broomhall.

“This is especially true for fly-in fly-out work arrangements where employees are estranged from family and ‘normal life’.”

Mental Health Week takes place in 2015 from 4-11 October. For more information, click here

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