New paper identifies priorities for implementation of integrated approach to workplace mental health

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A new paper from the University of Tasmania’s Work Health and Wellbeing Network has identified nine priorities for implementation of an integrated approach to workplace mental health in Australia.

In October 2016, members of the university’s Work Health and Wellbeing Network convened a workshop with national and international workplace mental health experts to identify initial priorities for the implementation of an integrated approach to workplace mental health which forms the basis of the paper.

The nine priorities are:

Priorities for preventing harm

  • Develop knowledge, skills, and resources for psychological health and safety at all levels in workplaces.
  • Require and support employers to develop a psychological health and safety strategy, policy and procedures.
  • Develop emotional and social intelligence in leaders and managers

Priorities for promoting the positive:

  • Design jobs to promote positive mental health
  • Provide training and development in positive approaches
  • Assess and promote the strengths of individuals and teams

Priorities for managing mental illness:

  • Undertake stigma reduction and mental health literacy programs to foster a work environment where people are able to seek help early without adverse consequences in the workplace
  • Ensure clear roles, responsibilities, and processes for supporting employees with mental illness.
  • Implement flexible work practices to facilitate accommodation of individual needs.

“There is increasing recognition in Australia, and internationally, of the need to protect, promote and support the mental health of employees in their workplaces. This is seen as a vital strategy for improving mental health in our communities but also makes good business sense, with evidence showing economic benefits from taking such action. An integrated approach to workplace mental health seeks to simultaneously prevent work-related harm, and to manage mental illness as it manifests in the workplace,” the author states in the white paper.

“Without the implementation of an integrated approach, efforts will largely remain disconnected, ad hoc and focused on individual workplaces, rather than on achieving systemic and sustainable change. Whilst there has been a significant effort to develop awareness in this area, particularly over the past five years in Australia, it has now reached a stage where greater awareness must be followed by greater action. This white paper sought to begin the work of reaching consensus about specific actions to be prioritized, creating an implementation agenda for an integrated approach that is endorsed by a wide range of stakeholders with relevant expertise and experience.”

Workshop participants will reconvene in three years to revisit implementation of the priorities stated.

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