We want business owners and leaders to place just as much importance on people’s mental health as they do on their physical health and safety. And we have a new website to help businesses to take action to improve mental health in their workplace – www.headsup.org.au

In a new Instinct and Reason survey of more than 500 business owners and managers, around half (45%) agreed that  workplace mental health is a problem, but not a major cost to the business and almost as many (43%) agreed that businesses have more important issues to think about.

I believe they may reconsider their position if they knew that a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report last week found that through absenteeism, decreased productivity and compensation claims, mental health in the workplace costs the Australian economy $10.9 billion a year.

On the other hand, the good news is the PWC report also found that for every dollar spent on improving mental health in the workplace, a business reaps an average return of $2.30. In several industries, however, it can be as high as $5.70.

So it follows that taking action on mental health problems (such as depression and anxiety) in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense.

I am greatly encouraged that more than seven out of 10 (74%) leaders surveyed recognised that mental health problems resulted in absence and lost productivity, nine out of 10 (89%) agreed businesses needed support to tackle mental health issues in the workplace and almost as many (84%) agreed that a campaign was needed  to raise awareness in the business community.

So I invite business leaders and bosses to check out our headsup.org.au website to find out what they can do to make their workplaces mental health friendly. If you’re an employee, show this letter to your boss or check out the Heads Up website yourself.

Mentally healthy workplaces are those that people look forward to attending, are sensitive to individuals’ needs, and where employees and managers are supportive of each other.

Good businesses need good leaders, so I hope everyone will acknowledge that there is good evidence to show taking action to make your workplace mentally healthy makes good business sense.

Georgie Harman

CEO beyondblue

Hawthorn West, Victoria 3122