about mental health

Why Is Mental Health So Important?
Mental Health is the concern of every member of our community. Official figures show that 1 in 5 Australians in any 12 month period will have a mental illness. This figure is increased in adolescents and in the older age groups. When you consider it is estimated that at least one third of all people who have mental illness do not seek help, then the figure of 1:5 increases dramatically. Add to this number the people who are Carers for people with mental illness and you have a large percentage of the population affected by mental ill health.


Every member of our society is responsible for the mental health of our community.

The costs to the workplace

Questions you may need to ask yourself if you are a manager:

  •  Are you aware of how to Performance Manage a person with mental illness?

  •  Are you aware of the positive aspects of employing a person who has a mental health issue?

  • Do you know what mania looks like and the potentially positive and negative aspects of it?

  • Do you know how to prevent mental illness in the workplace?

  • What training have your directors, managers, WHS, HR and other staff had in mental health?

  • What policies and protocols does your workplace have to prevent stress and mental illness from being a burden?

  • Are you aware of the changes in workplace legislation about stress and mental illness and the precedents that have now been set in the courts of law about litigation against individual directors, managers and workplaces who have not provided a safe workplace?

  • Do you know how to make work place adjustments to suit a person with mental illness?

  • Do you know how to make Wellness/Stay Safe Contracts?

According to Workcover statistics, Manual Handling injuries cost $224 million dollars in Australia in 2004/05, Occupational Overuse claims were $29.7 million and Mental Disorder claims cost $91.6 million. This equates to 36% of these claims, plus one must add into this the number of manual handling injuries that occurred as a consequence of stress and mental illness.

Depression alone is estimated, in economic terms to:
• Reduce workplace performance by 40%
• Cost the workplace $9960 per employee who has undiagnosed depression
• Contribute to the loss of 6 million working days annually
• Constitute 5.8% of workers compensation claims made in 2003, with an average time off of 96.1 days, compared with 28.9 days for other claims. (While official figures of 2005-06 have not been released as yet it is expected that these figures will be a great deal higher, some estimations are of 30% increase).

Add to these figures the cost of other illnesses such as bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety, ADHD, etc and the time and inability of carers to work as efficiently as possible and you can see that it is imperative for the social and financial cost to our community that people become educated in mental health.

However people with mental illness who know they can be open about their health and be supported at work take significantly less days off work and some researchers say that these people frequently have less time off work than people who do not have mental health issues.

If the business and community sector continue to ignore the warning signs of individuals who may be affected by mental health care concerns, the manifestation of problems may complex and difficult to manage. However if people are proactive and put into place education, training, workplace and social adjustments to ensure that people do not become unwell or are supported so that they recuperate quickly the outcomes will be positive, enlightening, and sustainable.

Consider the famous people throughout history who have had mental illness and the amazing achievements they have brought to our way of living. Where would we be without them? Who are the next Michelangelo's, Leonardo da Vince's, John Nash's, Beethoven's etc. they may well be in your family, workplace or community.




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