Ambassador roundtable to discuss workplace mental health

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 25 October, 2021 - 16:15
Policy & legislation
New South Wales

The NSW Government is urging all small and medium businesses to engage with SafeWork NSW around workplace mental health after a recent survey showed 20 per cent of operators admitted to having mental health and stress concerns from current challenges including COVID.

SafeWork NSW director of health and safe design, Jim Kelly, said the results came as SafeWork’s Mentally Healthy Workplaces ambassadors met for an annual roundtable was a chance for the programs Ambassadors to share experiences with the regulators and assist in shaping responses.

“The Small Business Commission’s August survey is a wake-up call for business with just half of business operators reporting they feel they have adequate support for their mental wellbeing, and one-third of operators uncomfortable in seeking external support,” Kelly said.

“The mental health toll on many workplaces has been high as business models have changed during the COVID pandemic, with employees working remotely or on reduced hours, or working in essential roles needed to keep society functioning.

“In response, the NSW Government is promoting and providing advice, workplace mental health programs and plans to more than 8,500 small and medium businesses, and today we will explore what big business and government can do to share the load.

“Through buying power and reach, big business and government, who more often have internal systems and processes for managing internal mental health, can do a lot to help small business owners to be in a better position to support their employees.”

SafeWork is offering a suite of programs to support businesses in supporting their staff and a partnership with the Black Dog Institute has trained over 17,500 managers and staff.

A direct practical coaching program for businesses with up to 200 employees or any not-for-profits has over 900 registrations since being launched this year.

“Today’s roundtable brings together 10 ambassadors representing both large and small businesses, government bodies and organisations to help prioritise actions and promote mentally healthier workplaces,” Kelly said.