Does your boss care about your mental health?

A survey of Australian workers by health and care company Bupa has revealed a mixed scorecard when it comes to handling mental health in the workplace.

People say while they feel there's more awareness of mental health issues in workplaces, there's still a way to go making people comfortable talking about it at work.

The survey data, released to coincide with World Mental Health Month, revealed  while 81% of Aussie workers said their employer cares about the mental health of workers, alarmingly 43% of people who had experienced mental health issue said they felt penalised for talking about their mental health at work.

Dr Paul Bates, Bupa Australia Chief Medical Officer, said the contrast in results between the general workforce and those with mental health issues showed that there was still much work to do.

“At first glance, these results look very positive on how mental health is viewed and managed within the workplace,” Dr Bates said.

“Most workplaces have policies in place and training for staff and managers to handle mental health, 69% of all workers believed their manager would know how to support them if they were affected by mental health and three quarters of workers believed they would know how to support a colleague.

“However, while there was increased awareness of mental health among workers and managers, those who had experienced mental health issues felt less comfortable.

“We saw a significant number of people feeling penalised for raising mental health as an issue in the workplace, with half of them believing they would be overlooked for promotion and almost the same number for a pay rise.

“Even the idea of requesting time off due to mental health saw 60% of workers worry about possible consequences.

“We’ve come a long way and the subject is far less taboo than it was only a few years ago, but clearly there is more work we can do. Workplaces where there were mental health policies and training programs received higher scores than those that didn’t. The call to action here is for workplaces to put the steps in place to make handling mental health the same as any other issue,” Dr Bates said.

This month, Bupa are supporting their people and workplaces in Australia by providing a series of educational mental health content covering common concerns such as depression, anxiety and stress. This content is used in conjunction with mental health seminars and workshops that Bupa provide as part of their suite of workplace health solutions.

The content is freely available along with other information for businesses can be found at http://www.bupahealthierworkplaces.com.au/