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One in 5 Aussie miners has experienced mental health problems in last year

Jeff KennettMore than one in five Australian mining industry workers has experienced mental health problems such as depression and anxiety in the past 12 months, according to beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett.

The worrying statistic has been revealed ahead of beyondblue’s launch of an Australian-first national campaign in conjunction with the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance* to encourage Australia’s business leaders to take action on mental health.

It also comes as a new PwC report reveals that mining businesses will receive an average return of $5.70 for every $1 they invest in effective workplace mental health strategies. This is well above the average rate for Australian businesses of a $2.30 return for every $1 invested.

The research, which looked at the impact of employees’ mental health conditions on productivity, participation and compensation claims, also found these conditions cost Australian employers at least $10.9 billion a year.

beyondblue Chairman The Hon Jeff Kennett AC said the report provides a compelling case for businesses to back Heads Up, a campaign to give big and small mining businesses alike practical advice about the importance of mental health in the workplace.

“More than one in five Australian mining industry workers (22.7%) has experienced mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety in the past 12 months, but sadly too many workplaces still do not realise the importance of their employees’ mental health,” he said.

“This report shows that employers have a responsibility not only to their workers, but also to their businesses’ profitability, to tackle these conditions at work. Heads Up will provide them with  a tailor-made Action Plan to do this and will help ensure that Australia’s 11.5 million workers across all industries receive the support they need to be mentally healthy and productive.”

PwC partner Jeremy Thorpe said the report reveals how investing in mental health can deliver enormous benefits.

“Any positive ROI is something business should strive for,” he said. “This is why I would urge all employers, regardless of what industry you’re in or your business size, to read this report and learn what economic benefits you can gain from investing in mental health.”

Heads Up will target leaders across small, medium and large Australian businesses through major advertising and social media campaigns, and already it has the backing of some major companies.

Funded by the Department of Health, it has been launched as a growing body of evidence points to the urgent need for Australian businesses to start treating the mental health of their employees as seriously as they treat physical health and safety. The campaign’s centrepiece is the Heads Up website (www.headsup.org.au) where business leaders can find out why they are losing money if they are not investing in employees’ mental health and sign up to learn how to make their workplace more mentally healthy and profitable. In mid-June, a first-of-its kind Action Plan will be unveiled on the website to allow businesses to create tailor-made mental health plans to implement in their workplaces to ensure they are progressing towards workplaces that are as mentally healthy as possible.

beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said Heads Up would have a long-lasting impact as it delivered benefits for
employees and employers alike.

“Employers who are mindful of their employees’ wellbeing and introduce supporting policies promote greater worker satisfaction and deliver enormous productivity improvements, making it a truly win-win situation,” she said.

“Too many business leaders, however, still don’t know how to help people who may be struggling with a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. These people continue to face discrimination and do not receive the same support that people with physical conditions receive. Employers who do not promote good mental health miss out on the benefits that it can bring, but adopting Heads Up can help to change that. Creating mentally healthy workplaces is everyone’s responsibility, but employers need to take the lead. Heads Up is a cutting-edge campaign and I look forward to beyondblue assisting  employers to realise that good mental health is just as important as good physical health and safety in the workplace.”

For more information visit the beyondblue website.

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