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How to successfully implement a mental health policy

Many of us spend a big part of our lives at work. This means the workplace has the potential to impact our mental health - both positively and adverse
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How to successfully implement a mental health policy

How to successfully implement a mental health policy

18 March 2019

Many of us spend a big part of our lives at work. This means the workplace has the potential to make us feel connected, involved and achieve a sense of purpose. However, there could be times when the workplace can adversely affect our mental health and our ability to do our jobs effectively.

Workplaces that promote mental health and wellbeing are places where everyone feels supported and will ultimately be more productive and happier - regardless of whether or not they have a mental health issue.

Communication is key when implementing any HR policy so we're put together 5 steps to help embed your new mental health policy:

Step 1: Get leadership support and buy-in

Any real change must come from the top. Business owners, organisational leaders and HR play a critical role in driving policies and practices that promote mental health in the workplace.

They have the ability to positively influence workplace culture, management practices and the experience of employees. Importantly, leaders must be able to lead by example.

Step 2: Put together an internal communications plan

Once you get the go-ahead, put together an internal communication plan. Remember to be clear on what the policy is trying to achieve. For instance, the ultimate goal is to:

  • Build and maintain a workplace environment and culture that supports mental health and wellbeing
  • To increase employee knowledge and awareness of mental health in the workplace
  • To reduce the stigma around depression and anxiety in the workplace
  • To create employee engagement through a range of activities that support employee health and wellbeing

Additionally, look into which communication channels are most effective for your audience. For example, retail frontline staff may not be able to check their emails regularly compared to those who work in office environments. That means you may need to alter and prioritise each channel and approach.

Step 3: Provide training where needed

To ensure greater success, offer training. For instance, beyondblue's ‘Mental health in the workplace’ toolbox talk training package aims to equip managers with the skills and confidence to encourage conversations about mental health in the workplace, reduce stigma and support staff experiencing a mental health condition.

Training does not have to be provided all at once. You can schedule training sessions on an on-going basis or on an as-needed basis.

Step 4: Ensure employee commitment

It is important for employees to read the policy and become familiar with it. Ensure you request each employee sign-off as having read the document.

Make sure the policy is easy to access. Many companies display this on their Intranet or staff notice board.

Step 5: Measure the success of the policy

It is important to monitor and review your progress, so you can see how you are tracking and measure the effectiveness of your initiatives. Use information from employees, health and safety committees, audits and Human Resources.

With all the data gathered, it’s important to create an action plan. Heads up have an action planning template you can use.

Over to you

Remember, the success of implementing a mental health policy is reliant on whether your company culture provides a safe place for employees to open up and engage in a conversation about mental health. If employees feel like they can't have an open dialogue, then the policy will not be effective and seen as a ‘tick a box’ exercise.

Also, it’s important to factor in the time, resources and people it takes to implement and communicate the policy.


 

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