Australia Post to appoint first chief mental health officer

The role will focus on developing solutions to improve employees' wellbeing

Australia Post to appoint first chief mental health officer

Australia Post has announced that it will be appointing a chief mental health officer, making history as the first government business enterprise to do so. The role of the chief mental health officer will be on the "development of evidence-based, practical and engaging organisational development solutions to drive continued improvement in workplace psychological health."

The company said in a media release that the establishment of the new post underscores the growing recognition of the importance of workers' mental health and well-being. With over 6,000 employees, Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Paul Graham said that the Post's size and scale gave the company a "moral obligation to lead in this important area."

"We have the opportunity to apply learnings across a large and diverse workforce and understand what will be effective in supporting our people and driving a culture of change when it comes to mental health," Graham said in a statement. "We will then be able to share those learnings to help the broader community," it added.

The appointment of the new chief mental health officer adds to the company's efforts in championing mental health. The Post has previously established a partnership with Beyond Blue, an organisation that connects Australian communities with important mental health initiatives. It was also involved in connecting small business owners with mental health coaching services.

Read more: Mental health: Unexpected COVID-19 benefits

Mental health impact on workplaces

Employees across the world have collectively suffered from deterioration of mental health after workplaces were forced to make changes overnight due to the pandemic. A report from Champion Health showed that 67% of workers are experiencing moderate to high levels of stress due to the pandemic and anxiety surrounding "return-to-work" plans.

Even more concerning is that 28% of these workers admitted that their productivity is feeling the impact of high stress levels in the last two years, according to the report.

Dr. Melisah Feeney, principal consultant, organisation psychologist and executive coach at Bendelta, previously told HRD that businesses putting preventive measures in place is a great way to support employees' mental health.

This includes the formulation of a mental health action plan, as well as mental health training to the workforce. After that, Feeney advised HR leaders to incorporate mental health awareness and positive action into policies and procedures.

"If managers actively create a workplace culture where employees feel it is safe to be themselves and they can freely speak up when things are not right then they will actively be supporting a mentally healthy workplace," Feeney said.

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