Mental Health is an issue that I am sure we have all been affected by, whether personally or with someone you know.  Mental Health does not discriminate, it affects everyone, no matter what the demographic is. High profile people such as Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain in the past few weeks have taken their lives and shocked all that knew them. Anthony’s last photo shared publicly was of him smiling with his family, but behind the smile, we now know there was great pain.

I myself suffer with depression related to my Fibromyalgia and to be truthful there are days that I don’t know how I can continue due to the pain levels. I would never do anything but sometimes it is just so hard.

Last week I went to see Jimmy Barnes with his Working Class Man Book tour and it won’t surprise you that mental health was a key part of Jimmy’s journey.

He spoke of when Michael Hutchence arrived back in Australia, not long before he committed suicide. He said everyone could see he was struggling and that Jimmy called him to see if he was okay. They spoke briefly, and Michael told him basically to piss off, as men don’t speak about these things, and Jimmy agreed.

One-week later Michael was dead. Jimmy states that maybe if he visited instead of called or pushed the issue if Michael would still be alive.

This hit me hard, as this was a similar story with Scott’s cousin. Scott and I had talked Shane down from the ledge a few times as he struggled with his demons, but he cut us off. We tried to reach out but to no avail as he cut everyone off that could help him. We unfortunately gave up after a few months, thinking he would come around and to this day we regret it, as six months later Shane committed suicide. It devastated us and years later we are all still struggling to comprehend why and continually wonder what we could have done differently to have Shane with us now.

Mental health is also a big issue within the workplace. Last week a member rang about dismissing an employee immediately due to violence in the workplace. There is no doubt there should be zero tolerance to violence in the workplace but why has the employee acted like they did?  Not your issue you may say, but I think if there was a serious mental health issue, then Fair Work Australia may look differently at the dismissal.

FTMA Australia has researched this issue and have found that Sane Australia has amazing resources that can not only help your business in identifying mental health but ways in which you can educate your managers and employees to ensure your business is not affected by Mental Illness and obviously to ensure employees get the help they need.

Mental Health, according to Sane Australia is the leading cause of long-term workplace absence.  Sane Australia and the following is from Sane Australia’s website which is very informative.

“Mental Illness is also associated with high levels of presenteeism, where an employee remains at work despite symptoms that contribute to lower productivity. Addressing this issue is a major economic, as well as health and person matter therefore.

Every year, around one in five of the population is suffering from symptoms of mental illness, most commonly depression and anxiety, but also including bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

The State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia by states that a further one-sixth of the population will be suffering from symptoms associated with mental ill health, such as worry, sleep problems and fatigue, which while not meeting criteria for a diagnosed mental illness, will still affect their ability to function at work. This creates costs to individuals, businesses, the economy and society in general.

With 45% of Australians experiencing a mental health problem in their lifetime, it is likely that at some point, every worker will be affected by mental illness, either directly or indirectly.

While businesses can have the best intentions, if their managers and employees are not equipped to respond to an emerging mental health issue, the end result can be costly to both individual lives and the business bottom line.

The Mindful Employer Program

Mindful Employer is a training solution that provides managers with the skills and confidence to respond effectively to signs of mental health problems at work and manage reasonable workplace adjustments.

The program helps managers create a more positive and supportive workplace and avoid costs of not responding appropriately to mental health problems.

Mindful Employer offers online and face-to-face solutions.  It focuses on mental health awareness training and teaching the skills to work with, and support, an employee who has, or is caring from someone with a mental illness.  It provides answers to important questions such as:

  • What ae the signs of mental health problems?
  • What do I do if I am concerned for a colleague or employee?
  • How do I manage reasonable workplace adjustments?

Mindful Employer can help you develop a training solution appropriate to your business requirements, ensuring you raise awareness of mental health issues amongst staff and managers, while empowering people to react effectively and appropriately to issues that may arise at work.”

We encourage members to download the following resource, State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia, and consider if you need to address this within your workplace.

Mental Health should not be ignored as we all know someone who has been affected and it truly ruins lives.

If you would like more information on Sane Australia please visit their website at