Liz Tobin from beyondblue talks about the positive role business leaders can have in creating mentally healthy workplaces. Mental illness costs business - but you will get a return if you invest in the mental health of your workers. This presentation also provides practical tips and introduces you to the Heads Up initiative.
Who is this presentation for?
This engaging presentation is for leaders, managers, designers of work and work systems, and anyone interested in how they can contribute to a mentally healthy workplace. This presentation will be of interest to those experiencing mental health problems.
About the presenter
Ms Liz Tobin is a member of the beyondblue workplace and workforce team, and an accredited facilitator for their National Workplace Program. She is also an accredited executive coach and a registered occupational therapist.
Liz has over 18 years’ experience specialising in workplace mental health and wellbeing with a strong background in occupational rehabilitation, health education and promotion. Liz has developed expertise working with individuals and teams in an organisational context and is passionate about supporting and empowering people in workplaces to build greater awareness of depression, anxiety, wellbeing and health.
Leaders: Heads Up on mental health!
Ms Liz Tobin, beyondblue
[Australian Strategy Virtual Seminar Series (logo) Text: Australian Work Health & Safety Strategy 2012-2022, Oct 2014, image of mouse pointer over logo]
[Australian Industry Group (logo)]
[Heads Up (logo)]
[Text: The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance]
[beyondblue Depression. Anxiety. (logo)]
[Text: To find out more visit headsup.org.au]
[Text: Leaders: Heads Up on Mental Health]
Liz Tobin: [beyondblue speaking from lectern]
What I'm going to talk about today is what is a mentally healthy workplace? Many of you will already have an understanding of that, but I'll just give a clear, I suppose over umbrella definition as to what that would look like,
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Session overview
1. What is a mentally healthy workplace?
2. Why is it important?
3. How can we engage businesses?
4. What practical actions can you take?
5. What next?]
and more importantly, why we’re talking about this? Why are we all coming together to share information and stories and build our expertise in this? Why? What are the drivers behind this that we need to consider and think about?
I'll talk about how we can engage business. I'll look at what are the practical actions that you can take in your workplaces, and then talk about what next after this.
[Audience watching presentation]
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Mentally healthy workplace
A mentally healthy workplace;
"promotes and protects the mental health of individuals and can have a positive impact on productivity, creativity, retention and being perceived as an employer of choice."]
So, a mentally healthy workplace promotes and protects the mental health of individuals and can have a positive impact on productivity, creativity, retention and being perceived as an employer of choice. Page 2 of 7
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Bubble diagram with centre text: Leadership and Text in outer bubbles: Performance, Innovation, Workforce, Strategic Direction, Wellbeing, Growth, Organisational Values, Workplace Culture]
One of the key things when we look a mentally healthy workplace is leadership. So the people who have influence in a workplace need to have a really good grasp and a really strong commitment to having a mentally healthy workplace. It doesn't just happen by chance. It isn't a, "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't." We want this to be the norm in all workplaces across Australia. So when we look at leadership, a mentally healthy workplace needs to be considered when you're looking at performance, when you're looking at innovation, the actual workforce, strategic direction, the wellbeing that is embedded in these things, the growth - and this is around change. When we're going through change in workforces, this is often when stress levels are coming up. So how do we keep it healthy? How do we anticipate the impact and the risks of change that are taking place?
The organisational values - do they reflect a mentally healthy workplace? Are they in line with us supporting people and having conversations and having open door policies? Is that how the workplace functions, and the workplace culture - does it reflect a mentally healthy workplace? So as I said, it should be embedded in all of these things, underpinned by really good leadership on an ongoing basis.
Over the years I've been working with beyondblue and have had the privilege of doing lots of workplace programs and doing workshops with managers, and the theme that seems to come through over doing this for six years is it's kind of chance for most workplaces, and for people in workplaces whether they get a good manager, whether they have a great CEO, it's not a given. It just seems to be a random chance, and this is where our focus is, wanting to change that and wanting to shift that, that it should be a given. Your manager, the leaders in organisations should have an understanding of what a mentally healthy workplace looks like and then take that next step to implement it on an ongoing basis.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Session overview
2. Why is a mentally healthy workplace important?]
Why is it important?
[On screen PowerPoint slide, diagram of map of Australia with figures around it representing proportions of population with depression and anxiety, and those who die by suicide]
So, you will have your own ideas as to why this is really important, and I think our biggest driver is the stats when we look at mental health in the workplace. I think when you look at these stats they're quite sobering. They are taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2007. The way they collected these stats was they knocked on the homes of over 8,700 residents and conducted a mental health assessment and this is where these numbers come from. It's the most robust study available at this point in time in Australia, and what it told us is that one million Australians every year are unwell with depression, one in three women are unwell with anxiety and one in five men are unwell with anxiety.
I'm going to flick back to the men and women with depression. There is a discrepancy with this number. There's many reasons as to why this is the case, why it presents uneven here, but probably one of the biggest issues here is that men are getting unwell. We know they're getting incredibly unwell. They're not going to the doctors. They're not seeking professional support. They're not seeking support from their communities. We know they're getting really unwell because of that big six down the bottom there which I think really brings home the tragedy when we look at mental health conditions. Six people die by suicide every single day in Australia. Five of them are men. So that is really sobering, I think, and really reminds us how tragic the outcomes of these things can be, and if we link this back to the workplace, reminding ourselves that what the workplace does is it provides another forum for people to get help. It's as simple as that and that's why we want to educate people in workplaces because we don't want these stats down the track. We want to shift these stats.
I've got more stats for you here, linking it still to the workforce. A lot of them are between that age group of 35 to 44. They are the highest risk of suicide in Australia at this point in time. So we have access to Page 3 of 7
them in the workforce. As I said, they're not always going to doctors. They are often using alcohol and drugs as a way of trying to manage and cope and mask the symptoms. What we know about those strategies is they are terrible, they are, they don't work, okay? They actually exacerbate the symptoms.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Suicide rates
Graph showing Age-specific suicide rates, 2012, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Commonwealth of Australia 2014]
Here's those stats again on suicide. So again, taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. So this is one of the real drivers for Australian businesses and our community at large to really say, "We need to address mental health anyway in every way we can."
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Cost to Workplaces
Graph showing breakdown of productivity loss due to absenteeism (4.7 billion), presenteeism ($6.1 billion) and compensation stress claims ($0.146 billion). Total cost to workplace of mental health conditions is approx. $11 billion per annum]
The other area which I'm going to talk a little bit about now as to why workplaces should create mentally healthy workplaces is the cost, and all of you would be under pressure constantly around costs in workplaces, but what we have here is the cost specifically to mental health in the workplace. These costs were published only to the public a couple of weeks ago. They come from a PWC report that was commissioned by beyondblue. If you're interested in costs and more of these stats, I'd encourage you – this is where you can scribble down on your piece of paper – to actually get a copy of the PWC report - you can access it through the beyondblue website. You go beyondblue website, Heads Up and it gives you an option to go into the full report. The reason I would encourage you to look at it is because I was really surprised – and I've worked in this area for a long time - at the cost of absenteeism here at $4.7 billion and presenteeism – they're so high and we're not always equating them with mental health conditions.
We look at that little slice, that tiny little green bit in the middle which is 0.146 billion - we all know about workers comp and we put a lot of vigour into that. We also put a lot of energy into guiding and telling, "Well if we've got high climbs we must have problems. If we've got no claims for stress or mental health, we've got no problems." Well no, you have. This is the problem right across Australia. This tells us there is a huge cost burden associated with mental health in the workplace, people not coming in to work because they are too unwell to come in, because they can't get out of bed, because they're too overwhelmed, because they're feeling sick in the stomach about having a meeting tomorrow and they're feeling too anxious about it, not coming in for those reasons, and just not having the energy to come in, or coming in, as is the case with presenteeism, and just not having the energy or the mental concentration or focus because they are unwell, to do the task that is their core job. So as I said, if you're interested in those numbers I'd really encourage you to look at the PWC report.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Creating a mentally healthy workplace has a positive ROI
Graph showing increasing levels of ROI]
The good news that this report also found was that the more people invested - organise invested in their mental health in the workplace, they got a return on investment. That return on investment ranged from $2.3 for every one dollar spent. For smaller businesses in some cases, that return was up to $15. So here's your argument to take back to workplaces when you're wanting to say, "We want to do physical fitness programs," "We want to use coaching," "We want to do some mental health training." There's six particular things outlined in that report I'd encourage you to look at, and what things fit best with your organisation, you are going to get a return on investment. You also are going to get people who are more engaged in their workplace, who feel supported, who are more likely to access support when they need it, which is early.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Session overview Page 4 of 7
3. How can we engage business?]
And this leads me to our current Heads Up initiative which is really, really exciting for someone like me who's always trying to go, "Well you can do this and you can do that," da-da. Heads Up initiative. Many of you may already be familiar with the Heads Up initiative. It was only put online a couple of weeks ago and the action tools will be online on June 16th. Again if you haven't, that's one of the things I want you to write down – headsup.org.au, highlight that. That's all you have to do from today's talk. Highlight that. You'll be sorted.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: The Heads up initiative
The Heads Up Initiative is a co-branded social change program powered by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and beyondblue.
Collective impact will be a key to its success, with all Alliance member organisations working together to deliver the initiative.
Heads Up has been co-designed with Australian business, with over 2,500 business representatives participating in research informing its design.
The Heads Up initiative is comprised of an interactive website, tailored action plan tool and a communications campaign.]
It is a co-branded social change program powered by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance of which you guys, the ARG group, is part of and beyondblue. So in partnership with this collaborative impact they've looked at what is the key to success with all the alliance members working together to deliver an initiative that is going to reflect what businesses need, what businesses are asking for, where their holes are. So it's actually asked businesses and it's had over 2,500 representatives participating in research informing its design. So it's not something that beyondblue has sat down in our lovely office and gone, "I reckon this would be good," "Yeah, I like the sound of that." They've gone out, they've developed these relationships with businesses and groups like yourselves and said, "Right ,let's start putting this into place," and I think that is really exciting because this is actually the first time that mental health has had such a collaborative focus around businesses.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Business insights
There's a problem to be solved
54% of business leaders think they are not well-informed about current good practice in workplace mental health.
Heads Up is needed
89% of business leaders agree that the Australian business community need:
a campaign to raise awareness of workplace mental health
practical support in how to tackle workplace mental health issues.]
One of the things that came in the development of Heads Up was this insight which may have already been mentioned this morning that there is this problem, that 54% of business leaders think that they're not well informed about current good practice in workplace mental health, and that stat doesn't surprise me.
If someone is in manufacturing or if they're an engineer, or if they're an accountant, they haven't picked up these skills. They are experts in what they do and it's now a responsibility we're seeing at a greater level to start training people up, not just assuming, "Why would they know?" That's really hard. If you're Page 5 of 7
managing a call centre how would you also know how to manage mental health? So this is about helping people to get these tools.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Heads Up, Supporting Australian business to create more mentally healthy workplaces, logos of the Heads Up alliance companies]
I'm going to pull it back now before I finish up, to the Heads Up because this draws together that reducing risks, awareness and providing support, hopefully all under the one umbrella when we look at the Heads Up campaign. So, this is going to be one of the most useful tools, I hope, for all of you in the coming months and hopefully years, because of the things it's going to offer around practical tools.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Heads up website
A central point online for businesses to access simple, practical information to create more mentally healthy workplaces.
Includes information, interactive tools, and resources for all individuals in the workplace.]
It's going to provide practical information to create more mentally healthy workplaces. It's going to include information, interactive tools and resources for individuals in the workplace. It's going to have a lot of content, a lot of information. Some of it already exists out there and is already embedded in beyondblue website and other websites, but this provides essential portal for people in the workplace.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Content & tools
Creating a mentally healthy workplace
Taking care of myself
Rights and obligations
Resources & training
Interactive tools and content, includes:
About the Alliance,
The business case (including ROI research)
Alliance case studies (written & video)
Research evidence (UNSW literature review)
Personal experience videos
Action Plan tool.]
So things about taking care of yourself, rights and obligations which can often be really useful in businesses I think, things around confidentiality. There's information about the Alliance. The return to work research that I mentioned earlier is - also will be in here and one of the other things will be the action plan tool.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Action Plan Tool
A key feature of the Heads Up website will be an action plan tool, which enables businesses of all sizes to develop a tailored action plan to create a more mentally healthy workplace.
Page 6 of 7
Simple 3 step process:
1. Identify priorities
2. Implement actions
3. Evaluate impact]
And the action plan has been designed for all of you within your organisations basically to sit online or print it off and start inputting, "What are your risks?", "What are your priorities?" and start to do it yourself rather than having to get external bodies or do it randomly in response to situations that come up, and then you can implement the actions, review it, go back again. You might decide to this with a small team of people so that you're getting this range of input.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: 4. What next?]
So what next?
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: What next?
Register on the Heads up website
Support service 1300 22 4636]
I've got ahead of myself and excited. I've said this 15 times I think. Register.
Of course the other resource is the beyondblue website, particularly the workplace resources here, and of course our support service is – please have this phone number, Dot it around your workplace.
[On screen PowerPoint slide, Text: Summary
We all have a role to play in creating a more mentally healthy workplace.]
Basically in summary we all have a role to play in creating a more mentally healthy workplace. How do we convince senior management about promoting mental health in the workplace because of that fear that if we start that conversation, senior management will say "Now we're going to have more claims," so, it's fear driven.
There's a few things that I'd recommend you do. Use the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance information as a starting point. Using things like this can be quite powerful for workplaces because all these organisations listed below there, have said very publicly and made a very big commitment to saying, "We're on board with this," "We are leaders," basically. "Evidence-based practice is informing our decision here." So, using other organisations as your leverage, that's one way of doing it.
The other way - that PWC report, those figures I think are really compelling for senior management around things, so using that report as well. The part on return to investment within that report can be really useful in getting people on board because they're worried it's going to cost them something. The absolute reality is if they don't invest it will cost them something. It will cost them a lot more. There is really no evidence to suggest when you start talking about mental health that all of a sudden you have an increase in claims, claims that wouldn't otherwise eventuate. We really want to help people who are having a tough time at work. So it’s almost reminding them and having really honest conversations with them, "If someone is not unwell they are not going to be unwell." Page 7 of 7
A really nice stat which I think can be useful for business leaders is that three million people, as I told you, are unwell every year. Less than 50% of them are actually going to the doctors or getting any help at all, so there is a huge, huge stigma unfortunately around mental health. So the likelihood of what people do in workplaces is they cover it up. They don't – do you know what I mean? It's not the choice. "I don't want to work." If people are saying they're unwell, they are unwell. You need to listen. So there are a few things, a few angles to go with, and if not, get them to have their own senior briefing. Get someone external to come and talk to them in addition to all of those things.
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[Safe Work Australia (logo)]
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