Building your Employer Mental Health Prevention Plan using evidence-based prevention strategies
We’ve already established that mental health, stress and burnout can be multi-faceted and often complex.
However the positive of this is that there’s a broad range of influential preventatives that can be incorporated into any wellbeing plan to create the best outcomes for your staff.
Here are five things to incorporate into your plan.
1. An external, anonymous Employee Support Line or Counselling service.
Depending on the size and resources of your organisation, this could be something you could develop independently and internally, or engage an external third-party service to provide.
This provides team members with an awareness that professional support is readily available to them.
An anonymous support line or access to counselling services has been proven to be effective in increased perception by employees of their employer providing adequate support, shorter rehabilitation times after injury or accident, and improved wellbeing outcomes.
2. A ‘warning signs’ process and action plan
A deterioration in mental health is often something that doesn’t miraculously happen overnight (unless a significant sudden trauma has occurred). There is a range of stages a person may go through before they hit a crisis point.
What are some of the signs you might be wary of? Educating yourself and making resources readily available for staff to identify warning signs in both themselves and others can increase the chances of early intervention occurring prior to circumstances reaching catastrophic levels.
3. A conversation starter guide
In many cases, people want to be able to help, but don’t know how to initiate that support.
Having a conversation about mental health can be hard. You may be worried about offending, upsetting or triggering the person, or making the situation worse.
Some helpful conversations and opening questions can help with this. Embed a ‘conversation starter guide’ into your mental health prevention plan. You can find some helpful conversation starters at RUOK.org and Beyond Blue.
4. Incorporating openness and psychological safety into your company values and culture codes
Positive mental health is enabled through positive and empowering leadership. When leadership cultivates a culture of psychological safety, this can support employees in living a life of positive mental wellbeing.
As a part of developing your Culture Code and other documentation that outlines and identifies your culture and values, developing a set of values based around openness, acceptance, non-judgement and empathy can help.
Psychological safety refers to the ability for one to freely express themselves without fear of repercussion, consequence or judgement.
When psychological safety is achieved within a workplace, people are more likely to feel comfortable sharing their challenges or things that may be preventing them from achieving a state of mental wellbeing.
5. Investing in prevention saves money
Investing in prevention of mental health issues saves lives.
According to the Victorian Government’s research, 60-98% of people who take their own lives had a pre-existing mental health condition prior, which could have been impacted if earlier intervention had occurred.
There has also been considerable research that shows the economic benefits of prevention interventions in workplaces.
“A recent report prepared for the National Mental Health Commission found that nine of the ten prevention interventions they analysed had a positive return on investment, ranging from $1.05 to $3.06 for each dollar invested,” states the evidence review conducted by the Government of Victoria.
“Other Australian and international research confirms that many initiatives to prevent the onset of mental health conditions are cost-effective and save money.”
As an employer, it is important to identify early warning signs and to prescribe a call to action at each stage, so intervention can occur early on.
By incorporating budget allocations into your mental health plan for preventative strategies, this could save both money and lives in the long run.
Click here to see a broad list of evidence-based preventative strategies you can use to guide your thinking when developing an Employer Mental Health Prevention Plan.