Mentally healthy workplaces allow people to bring their "whole selves" to work. Everyone has the right to succeed in their chosen careers and feel safe and supported at work but many Australians living with a complex mental health issue face stigma at work.
According to SANE’s "National Stigma Report Card" survey, the majority of people living with a complex mental health issue have experienced some level of discrimination at work, with many people experiencing this quite frequently. People living with a complex mental health issue also experience high levels of unemployment and underemployment.
Many respondents to the survey tell stories of struggling with the rigidity of some workplaces or feeling pressured by their employer to disclose or conceal their experiences. One respondent said they felt pressured to disclose that they see a psychiatrist and this ultimately led to them losing their job as they were seen as an "unstable" employee.
The report has recommended three main ways employers can become mentally healthy workplaces. These recommendations are also tied in with the National Workplace Initiative that the National Mental Health Commission is leading.
Firstly, it is important programs like the National Workplace Initiative are inclusive of the full continuum of mental health experiences. These programs should promote workplaces to be flexible, support safe disclosure procedures, and be trained in mental health first aid and unconscious bias training.
Secondly, centering the experiences and stories of people with lived experience is crucial. An inclusive workplace means all the experience of all workers are valued, visible and represented. Workplaces should also explore creating peer support roles. Flourish Australia's peer support workforce is one example of how people with lived experience are best equipped to support each other.
Lastly, there should be more funding for programs that support people explore their strengths and employment goals. These programs should strive to offer meaningful and secure employment to all people.
Flourish Australia recognises mental health occurs on a continuum, and while recovery is different for everyone, being able to participate in the workforce is a key part of recovery. Have a read of Heidi’s story on how purposeful employment helped her in her recovery.
For help finding the right workplace for you, how to make your workplace stigma-free, or any other support call Flourish Australia on 1300 779 270.
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