Plans to improve mental wellness in the workplace

March 11, 2021 BY

The final report outlined 65 recommendations to rebuild the "catastrophically failed" system including a need to prioritise mental wellness in the workplace.

THE Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is calling on businesses to prioritise mental health among staff following the release of the final report into the state’s mental health system.

With business returning to the state, the commerce body warns the economic and psychological impacts in the workplace caused by the pandemic will continue.

The final report was released last week, outlining 65 recommendations to rebuild the “catastrophically failed” system.

Recommendation 16 of the mammoth report highlighted a need to establish mental wellbeing across workplaces through possessing the resources to assist employers and employees, as well as addressing barriers to achieving optimal mental health at work.

As a result, the Victorian Chamber is offering free mental health training and consulting to small and medium sized businesses employing young workers.

The program originally began in 2019 and has assisted 145 metropolitan and regional businesses across a range of industries.

Chamber chief executive Paul Guerra said the report recognised the importance of establishing mentally healthy workplaces.

“It is estimated that the economic cost of poor mental health to Victoria is $14.2 billion a year and employers have an obligation to be proactive to ensure they are looking after their people.

“It’s the right thing to do ethically and morally but it also makes financial sense to prevent mental health issues in the workplace from escalating.”

The program which is supported by WorkSafe’s WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund has assisted participants to educate their employees across all levels, incorporate mental wellbeing into their business plans, change management practices, ensure workloads are balanced and include mental health in their policies and procedures.

Participants are encouraged to address work-related stress by implanting clear job expectations and calling out incivility in the workplace.

“Working from home and the hybrid work environment pose new challenges because we know that it is so much harder to monitor employees’ mental wellbeing when we are not seeing them in person on a regular basis,” Mr Guerra said.

“The Victorian Chamber is passionate about supporting employers to provide mentally healthy workplaces and invites all metropolitan and regional businesses to start 2021 on the right foot by registering for this free program.”

The Victorian Chamber is now accepting businesses as part of the 2021 program.

“Having run the largest workplace health organisation in Asia Pacific for five years earlier in my career, I have a genuine understanding of how important it is to look after mental health in the workplace,” Mr Guerra said.

“It is not always understood, and it is not always recognised but it is absolutely something that we need to turn our attention to.”

To register, head to victorianchamber.com.au.