It's smart business to care about mental health
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2007 National Mental Health and Well-Being Survey found 45 percent of Australians aged between 16-85 experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives.
In any given calendar year, 22 per cent of Australians suffer from mental health difficulties.
Mental health is something that affects us all and the impact of untreated mental health conditions on Australian businesses is significant;
- PwC (2014) estimates mental health conditions to cost Australian businesses at least $10.9 billion a year
- This is made up of $4.7 billion in absenteeism, $6.1 billion in reduced productivity and $146 million in compensation claims
Businesses can mitigate the risks of mental health problems in the workplace and the return on investment is very strong;
- The successful creation of a mentally healthy workplace generates an ROI of 2.3 – for every dollar spent there is on average $2.30 in benefits gained
Mindfulness mediation is proven to have great impacts on the mental health of individuals.
Develop laser focus
Increased vigilance means you can maintain sustained attention. Furthermore, it promotes greater selective attention so you can disregard attention grabbing distractions and concentrate on what's important.
Mitigate the impact of stress
Stress is not in the situation, it is in our relationship to that situation. Mindfulness helps you manage your responses to thoughts and emotions, engendering resilience and making you better at handling stress.
Meditation increases alpha and theta wave brain activity making you better able to concentrate, faster at making decisions and able to remember and recall more information.
Control your emotions
Mindfulness improves your sense of responsibility, authenticity, compassion, and self-acceptance, whilst the recognition and acceptance of emotional responses gives you enhanced powers of emotion regulation, which leads to improved mental stability.
Take charge, make conscious decisions and when you do you’ll stimulate your own happy chemicals instead of just hoping the external world does it for you.
Having control over a more flexible attention span makes it easier to be aware, to more easily navigate fear-inducing situations and enter the state of hyper-effective creative awareness known as ‘flow’.
Build a better business
A mentally healthy workplace enhances social relationships and decreases role conflicts whilst fostering an environment of self-learning leading to increased organisational innovation.
A mentally healthy workplace benefits your bottom line
Regardless of whether an individual’s mental health condition developed outside the workplace, employees spend a significant proportion of their time at work and their workplace may contribute to the development or worsening of depression and anxiety conditions. The mental health of employees can be negatively affected by job strain and dissatisfaction, organisational change or traumatic events.
Equally, work can be a protective barrier against depression and anxiety conditions. Work, and the meaning and satisfaction it provides, can positively affect a worker’s mental health.
Nurturing the mental health of employees saves businesses money by;
- Reducing absenteeism through shorter sick leave periods, reducing days of work missed under the effects of alcohol or other substances and lowering incidence of recurrence
- Increasing productivity by increasing hours worked, improving resilience, increasing goal attainment, reducing early retirement and reducing the number of days worked under the effects of alcohol or other substances
- Reducing compensation claims by reducing the social isolation of people experiencing mental health conditions and fostering an environment of early action and intervention
- Further benefits can be realised through a reduction in turnover, lower management costs, reduced incident costs and lower income insurance costs for the organisation.
Mental health policies affect an organisation’s ability to attract and retain the best staff;
- 71% of Australian employees cite a mentally healthy workplace as important when looking for a future job
- Pay issues aside, an employer of choice is one that provides a workplace where staff know the company takes their and their colleagues’ mental health interests seriously
- A mentally healthy workplace makes an employee more committed to their job and is the second most powerful inhibitor of a worker leaving their job
- Younger workers value an organisation’s commitment to mental health issues more than their older counterparts meaning while a mentally healthy workplace is important in attracting and retaining staff today, it will be even more important in the future.
All industries see considerable prevalence of mental health conditions;
- Overall prevalence of mental health conditions is highest in the financial and insurance sector (33 per cent). With the information media and telecommunication and the essential services (electricity, gas, water, waste) industries only slightly behind (32 per cent)
- Anxiety conditions are most prominent in the IT, media, financial and insurance industries
- Depression is most prevalent in the accommodation and food services, personal and other services, arts and recreation services, the professional, technical sector and essential services industries
Mindfulness is a powerful tool
Mindfulness is a powerful tool, especially when employers couple it with support from managers and colleagues, role clarity, fostering positive relationships and effective change management.
“Mindfulness-based training is flexible to any audience and working environment, and has been shown to significantly reduce stress and anxiety, lessen distraction and increase attention to task. Mindfulness practice can also help staff to achieve more and to a higher standard”. Dr Steve Smith, senior lecturer in mental health and wellbeing at Scotland's Robert Gordon University, on his work with North Sea oil and gas companies seeking new ways to protect their workforce from work-related stress.