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Business must come to grips with issue

Friday, 20th June, 2014

Barrier Daily Truth General Manager Rod Niemann has a good grasp on mental health in the workplace. Barrier Daily Truth General Manager Rod Niemann has a good grasp on mental health in the workplace.

By Erica Visser

Employees take millions of “sickies” every year due to a lack of mental health support at work.

Australian organisation Beyondblue has found that while nine in 10 employees think a mentally healthy workplace is important, half don’t work in one.

Beyondblue has launched a new interactive guide that gives businesses a tailor-made plan to address mental health in the workplace.

Two thousand businesses have registered for it online in just two weeks.

The company’s acting CEO, Brian Graetz, told the BDT that people in country areas could be more reluctant to speak out.

“I think people aren’t sure what to do about mental health and in many ways they don’t know how to respond,” Mr Graetz said.

“(Employers) tend to push it to the side. A broken leg is a lot easier to deal with than mental health.

“Rural areas bring a strength in that people have stronger social ties with the people they work with.

“Then again, people might think there’s a greater risk in speaking out if they’re struggling because of these networks.”

Barrier Daily Truth General Manager Rod Niemann said that it was important to take the mental health of staff seriously. 

“My door is always open to employees if they have a problem,” Mr Niemann said.

“Mental health and underlying problems associated with it often don’t come to the fore like with physical issues. You need to take that into account.”

Mr Graetz said that often employers wanted to make their workplaces more mentally healthy but didn’t know how to go about it.

“I think this new guide is really providing workplaces with practical things they can do; it might well be simple things like training staff to recognise mental health issues.”

Businesses can sign up to receive resources at www.headsup.org.au

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