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What does it mean to Increase Individual Resources for Managing Mental Ill-Health?

The Increase Individual Resources for Managing Mental Ill-Health building block increases the capability of organisations to provide strategies aimed at increasing employee mental health literacy, help-seeking, and recovery.

Key strategies

Research shows that there are three main areas workplaces can act on to have a strong accommodating illness focus:

  • Raise awareness of personal mental health;
  • Build individual willingness to seek help; and
  • Build individual capacity to recover.

Why is it important to Increase Individual Resources for Managing Mental Ill-Health?

It is important to build the motivation and capacity of individual workers to manage their own mental health.

Mental illness can impact people across all types of workplaces, and all industries. Many Australian adults who experience mental health issues will be of working age and employed in different roles. Research consistently shows that untreated mental illnesses negatively impact turnover, absenteeism, and workforce productivity.

Organisations that increase employees’ resources for managing mental ill-health demonstrate to their workforce that they are committed to supporting employees. In turn, employees are more likely to want to work for and stay in organisations that acknowledge the importance of mental health and assist employees with their mental health.1

Research-backed strategies to improve Increase Individual Resources for Managing Mental Ill-Health in your workplace

Organisations can equip leaders and employees with the skills to recognise and discuss mental health concerns.

Raise awareness of personal mental health

Research reveals that the stigma surrounding mental health requires continual open discussion if it is to be challenged and ultimately removed. Workplaces are encouraged to continually challenge stigma by opening dialogue on mental health and well-being. Employees, in turn, are urged to confidentially disclose their own mental health issues and approach colleagues they may be concerned about.2

Research has shown that the following strategies assist with reducing stigma: 3,4

  • Placing posters and flyers about mental health around the workplace;
  • Providing resources that include personal stories of mental illness;
  • Talking about mental health to the whole of organisation and at team meetings; and
  • Taking part in well publicised mental health events, such as R U Ok? Day and the national mental health week.

Fact

Approximately 45% of adults between the ages of 16 and 85 will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime.5

Build individual willingness to seek help and capacity to recover

Individuals often avoid or delay seeking professional help, and mental health stigma is a key deterrent to an individual’s willingness to seek help. Stigma involves the labeling, separating, stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination of someone with mental illness. Research has found that mental health-related stigma has a detrimental impact on help-seeking for mental health, while other key barriers include a lack of accessibility to help, self-reliance, low knowledge about seeking help or services available, and fear or stress about the act of seeking help.6

Mental health stigma has been found to vary as a function of context. Stigma and attitudes towards mental health will be different in a workplace setting compared to a non-work context. This is why it is so important to target workplaces in reducing mental health stigma.7

As well as reducing mental health stigma, mental health training is one way organisations can build individual willingness to seek help and capacity to recover. Employees that receive mental health training can increase their understanding of mental health and develop skills to assist themselves and colleagues experiencing mental health issues.

Mental health programs such as mental health first aid and national workplace programs teach participants how to recognise mental health signs and symptoms, how to respond in a mental health crisis, and raise awareness of mental illness in the workplace.

Research has found significant improvements in the recognition of mental health conditions and assistance from employees who receive mental health training compared to their colleagues who did not receive training. Outcomes of mental health training and programs include increased knowledge, reduction of negative attitudes, increased confidence in helping someone get help, increased willingness to interact with a colleague with a mental health issue, and decreased stigma.9

Therefore, empowering leaders and employees with knowledge about mental health can support early detection and build individual willingess to seek help and recover.

References

  1. Donnelly, D. (2014). Heads Up Initiative: Employer of choice study.
  2. Lagerveld, S. E., Bültmann, U., Franche, R. L., Van Dijk, F. J. H., Vlasveld, M. C., Van der Feltz-Cornelis, C. M., … & Nieuwenhuijsen, K. (2010). Factors associated with work participation and work functioning in depressed workers: A systematic review. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 20(3), 275-292.
  3. Clement, S., Schauman, O., Graham, T., Maggioni, F., Evans-Lacko, S., Bezborodovs, N., … & Thornicroft, G. (2015). What is the impact of mental health-related stigma on help-seeking? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Psychological medicine, 45(1), 11-27.
  4. Stuart, H. (2016). Reducing the stigma of mental illness. Global Mental Health, 3, 17-31.
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008.
  6. Clement, S., Schauman, O., Graham, T., Maggioni, F., Evans-Lacko, S., Bezborodovs, N., … & Thornicroft, G. (2015). What is the impact of mental health-related stigma on help-seeking? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Psychological medicine, 45(1), 11-27.
  7. Szeto, A. C., & Dobson, K. S. (2010). Reducing the stigma of mental disorders at work: a review of current workplace anti-stigma intervention programs. Applied and Preventive Psychology14(1-4), 41-56.
  8. Szeto, A. C., & Dobson, K. S. (2010). Reducing the stigma of mental disorders at work: a review of current workplace anti-stigma intervention programs. Applied and Preventive Psychology14(1-4), 41-56.
  9. Szeto, A. C., & Dobson, K. S. (2010). Reducing the stigma of mental disorders at work: a review of current workplace anti-stigma intervention programs. Applied and Preventive Psychology14(1-4), 41-56.
Next step

Prevent

Prevent Harm is one of three pillars in the Thrive at Work Framework and a contributor to creating a workplace in which employees can thrive.