Masks and Hiding

Would you hide a mental health condition from your boss?

I read an article recently by Jasmine Crittenden on the HRM website about some new research that shows that most Aussies would hide a mental health problem from their employer.  In all the work I’m doing with various organisations who are really trying to make a positive difference and support their employees, I have to say that (as much as I would like not to say) that while we might have come a long way, we still have such a long way to go in terms of stigma surrounding mental health – particularly in workplaces.

I thought this was an insightful and timely article that you can access here – but I went ahead and made a summary looking at the Problem, the Impact, Common Mistakes Employers make, and some Solutions.

The Problem:

  • New research by Way Ahead, the Mental Health Association NSW, reveals concerning mental health statistics in Australian workplaces.
  • 70% of Australians wouldn’t disclose their mental health issues to their employers.
  • Only 7% believe their workplaces provide a safe environment for seeking help.
  • 64% fear discrimination, and 38% have reported unfair treatment after disclosing a condition.

The Impact:

  • Dr. Zena Burgess, CEO of the Australian Psychological Society, emphasises the personal and organisational implications of hiding mental health challenges.
  • 15% of people never seek help from their employer, and 18% wait three years before doing so.
  • Employers risk failing to meet psychosocial safety obligations, affecting productivity and well-being.

Common Employer Mistakes:

  • Creating an environment conducive to poor mental health.
    • Overloading employees.
    • Not providing necessary resources.
  • Failing to respond appropriately to mental health issues.
    • Inadequate manager training.
    • Promoting resilience without resources.

The Solution:

  • A top-down and bottom-up approach is essential for change.
  • Prioritise training for managers to deal with mental health issues.
  • Detect issues early, have preventative conversations, and provide employees with time and resources to recover.
  • Encourage open discussions on well-being and provide support for employees to seek professional help when needed.

I would add that before we all go about putting fruit in the kitchen and handing out free yoga passes, we find out what the key pain points in our organisation are which are negatively impacting our employees mental health.

Is it job design, adequate resources, communication, leadership, work environment, or something else?  Until we know this, we’re not sure our energy and resources are being directed to the places that will really make improvements.

There’s a number of tools on the market to find this out but I only use and recommend the Work on Wellbeing assessment which was developed in collaboration with scientists and psychology experts, and empirically measures, tracks and reports an individual, group or organisation’s wellbeing.  It evaluates metrics like emotions, personality, mental health and life satisfaction and is an incredible way to help you, your team, or your workplace cultivate positive growth, personally and professionally.  You can find more information here.

Everything counts!

Written by Michelle McFadyen

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