“Many HR teams don’t feel confident to spot the warning signs or equipped to implement proactive strategies to minimise risk to employees and the business.”

1 in 5 Australian adults is dealing with a mental health challenge.

And it comes to work with them.

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In this discussion paper, we explore the role of the HR professional in managing increasing levels of mental illness in the workplace.  We outline:

  • Why HR professionals and leaders are caught up in a ‘silent mental health epidemic’
  • Factors within and outside the workplace that are impacting the mental health of employees
  • Skills that HR professionals and line managers need to identify and manage mental health issues
  • The case for resourcing strategic efforts to manage mental health and build resilient workplace cultures, including setting expectations for the CEO & Leadership team on the role of HR

Peter Diaz

CEO, Workplace Mental Health Institute

When you take a walk through the office later, bear in mind that a good 20% of people you see may be dealing with a mental health challenge of some kind, such as anxiety, anger or depression. The effects may be bearing out in workplace conflict, low productivity, absenteeism, and in extreme cases, self harm.

As a HR Executive, the CEO and leadership team looks to you to ensure individual emergencies are handled appropriately, and that there are strategies in place to handle chronic stress and mental illness risks in the business. But are we asking too much of our HR professionals to identify and manage mental health related risks with limited to no resources? Man HR professionals say the only way to learn these skills is through doing their best and learning from mistakes. However the consequences of getting it wrong are significant: successful mental injury claims are on average $250,000 and, in some cases, lives are at stake.

How do we, as HR professionals, facilitate the identification of ‘at risk’ employees, ensure stressful situations are handled effectively and demonstrate to the leadership team that effective strategies exist for supporting and protecting the wellbeing of employees?

Read our complimentary Discussion Paper to understand your responsibilities for managing employee mental health during organizational change.


Publication produced by the Workplace Mental Health Institute, October 2017.