Are mental health issues being dismissed?

by Iain Hopkins18 Feb 2013

Mental health in Australian companies continues to be a backburner issue, and is not being adequately addressed by organisations, according to a leading mental health charity.

Ignoring the issue comes in at an annual tab of $6.5 billion, and top-tier executives continue to keep their heads in the sand about just how prevalent the issue is among their workforce. Executive director of SANE Australia, Jack Heath, said too many company heads are not serious about addressing it. “People in the boardrooms of major Australian companies, who are often a bit older, are more reluctant to acknowledge mental health as an issue that needs to be addressed,” he said.

Heath said SANE has noted a growing awareness of mental health issues, but it’s coming from the bottom-up, and in order for change to really happen, it needs to be driven by the top.

A SANE survey of more than 500 workers recently found some 95% believe their employers are uneducated about the seriousness of mental illness and need additional training to manage ill workers. “A couple of very high-profile corporate executives have in the past week told me how they didn't think mental health was an issue and had a very dismissive view of mental illness,” Heath told Fairfax.

SANE has introduced a program called Mindful Employer, which teaches mid-level staff how to address the mental health of workers. For more information, click here.


  • by Blackcat 19/02/2013 9:54:24 PM

    My employer organization was flooded with complaints about bullying and harrasment from 1/8 of it's workforce.
    Middle management never once stopped to enquire about the psychologcial effect the behaviour had on his employees. Managers indicated they could keep individuals from being exposed to the bully and more importantly, thought if the victim's moved away then they would be okay. They left but suffer from mental health issues requiring medication and support for the PTSD. I will suggest that if mental health was a concern earlier then a number of the worker's compensation claims may have been short circuited and the financial burden avoided.

  • by Jenni Czislowski 28/02/2013 11:06:55 AM

    I completly agree with Jack Heath. Being on Boards has become a job role in its own right. It is about productivity and dollars. People are begining to find spin, and smoke and mirrors intolerable, inadequate and downright deceptive.

    The new clever business model will be based on genuinely addressing important social issues. Those who don't will miss the boat. Marketing dress ups, including law and policy, will become secondary to transparency of purpose.

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