All eyes on mental health at work

It is not always easy to identify when a person is struggling with a mental health issue.

But one in five Australians experiences a mental illness at any one time.

Last week the spotlight was shone on ways to manage mental health, particularly in the workplace, at a briefing session held in Traralgon.

The focus ranged from creating a healthy workplace environment to learning the legal requirements of employers in dealing with mental health issues.

“These days businesses are focusing on having a good and healthy culture with values that reflect a respect for people in the workplace, a diverse workplace,” CCI Lawyers principal Sean Millard, who spoke at the event, said.

“There are financial figures that are showing both from a government point of view and a business point of view, mental illness is costing business and government a lot of money. We’re talking billions of dollars each year.

“So there’s an element of wanting to be seen as a good corporate citizen. You want a reputation in the marketplace of looking after your employees and being recognised for that and attracting good people, because you’re a good employer.”

The ‘managing mental health at work’ session was part of a series presented across the state by Cancer Council Victoria and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It tied into the state’s Achievement Program, which the Cancer Council delivers in workplaces, early childhood services and schools and focuses on five key health areas.

Cancer Council Victoria Achievement Program manager Anthony Bernardi said good mental health and wellbeing played an essential part in prevention, and allowed people to make healthier life choices.

“Broadly speaking healthier people can be twice as productive as unhealthy people at work,” Mr Bernardi said.

“Health and wellbeing is good for business… not addressing mental health and not creating supportive workplace environments can be a significant cost to businesses.”

If you would like to talk to someone about your mental health, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

A renewed focus

BRINGING mental health and wellbeing to the forefront of occupational health and safety is exciting for Latrobe Community Health Service primary prevention manager Christina Rush.

She and LCHS health promotion officer Catherine Hodgens attended last week’s session to learn of practical examples, legislation and research related to creating healthy workplace environments.

Ms Rush said mental health had not been a big focus of workplaces in the past, but it was fantastic to start talking about the emotive topic locally.

“Mental health is more difficult to identify and that’s why there has been a less of an emphasis on it, I suppose,” Ms Rush said.

“We know this work is hard, long-term work…You have to start the conversation somewhere and these sorts of conversations, gatherings, help start the conversations around mental health as well.”

LCHS provides one-on-one support to local workplaces registered with the Achievement Program, with professional development and other initiatives available throughout the year.

To join the Achievement Program visit or phone

1300 721 682.