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Addressing ‘mental health day’ stigma

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HC Online | 13 Jun 2013, 12:04 AM Agree 0
The ‘mental health day’ in Australia is typically associated with ‘chucking a sickie’. However, one expert feels it is time to get serious about mental health.
  • Jacqueline Johns | 14 Jun 2013, 11:16 AM Agree 0
    There is a simple solution to the problem of anxiety and stress in the workplace, which when applied, will eradicate the need for employees to be taking "mental health days". Onsite relaxation/meditation classes will minimize stress and anxiety and improve the work performance (and life performance) of employees. Employers need to educate themselves as to the many benefits (personal and business) of this practice and encourage their employees to attend regular onsite classes. In fact, the outcomes would be so beneficial to the business in terms of productivity, absenteeism and engagement, that I would recommend employers make regular attendance compulsory.

    There is absolutely no reason for the poor mental health figures to continue to rise when meditation has been shown to alleviate stress and anxiety - the main contributors to mental AND physical ill-health.

    Wise up employers and show appropriate, effective leadership in this crucial area.
  • HR Melb | 14 Jun 2013, 03:52 PM Agree 0
    There is no 'simple' solution for employers when it comes to addressing or helping someone with a mental illness (especially if the illness is unrelated to work) Having worked with an employee who suffers from mental illness, there is no easy 'fix'! Employers and or HR can only offer support and refer/suggest that the person seek professional help - HR are not psychologists! Onsite relaxation & meditation programs may certainly have its benefits but it wont prevent a mental illness. Further awareness and education for employers including HR is the key to understanding and addressing mental health in the workplace.
  • JM | 14 Jun 2013, 04:12 PM Agree 0
    I respectfully disagree that onsite meditation is a 'simple solution'. I believe it's not for everyone. Some just cannot establish and sustain the necessary 'quiet of mind' to benefit from this practice. Especially so I think when the practice is linked to work.

    Consider the public sector - to me it seems curious suggesting employees be paid to attend 'compulsory' mediation/relaxation classes at work - imagine the (likely negative) public perception of 'public servants taking paid meditation breaks'.

    In response to the original post/article, I agree that EAPs should receive far more promotion/attention and much work can be done to reduce stigma around accessing these services. Every workplace should have these programs in place. That's one step in achieveing better support of mental health and wellbeing in workplaces and here employers can really prove they are 'serious' about the mental health of their staff. Establishing a culture of asking colleagues if they are ok is also a good grass roots practice I think. It demonstrates consideration, empathy and shows that caring about mental health is not just a problem for the head of organisations to sort out, but something each individual can be empowered to address and resolve.

    I also wonder how accurate statements like "...mental health continues to be ignored by both employees and employers alike" are? I suppose I don't relate to this as it doesn't reflect my personal experience/observations in the organisation I work for. I do agree with the original comments however that more training can be done to identify and address drivers of mental health problems in workplaces and picking up cues from affected staff. I also agree with the point that employees/individuals need to take stock, self-assess and communicate when struggling so that we're not left exercising guesswork or doing nothing due to ignorance when it comes to mental wellbeing.
  • Amy | 21 Jun 2013, 03:34 PM Agree 0
    I would be very interested in anyone's propsals regarding "mental health days" that are offered to employees. We are looking at trying to reward colleagues with a "mental health day" out of their personal leave entitlements every 6 months. Does anyone do something like this??
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