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Proactive, structured approach key to managing employee mental health

According to one national law firm, better mental health management, including through early intervention, will help businesses see positive change in workforce health and wellbeing.

Proactive, structured approach key to managing employee mental health
Emma Howard and Julio Bara
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Speaking earlier this week at the National Worker’s Compensation Summit in Sydney, Clayton Utz national mental health manager Emma Howard and national health and safety and wellbeing manager Julio Bara argued that it is important for employers to put in place a prevention and intervention framework to help manage employee mental health and outcomes more effectively.

By focusing on the specific factors that contribute to poor mental health, businesses will be better able to manage the cycle of a person’s individual mental health concerns and needs, Ms Howard said.

“There are a mix of factors that contribute to a workplace being mentally healthy. On the prevention side, we need to educate the leaders of the business about their role in destigmatising mental health issues and encouraging open conversations with both their workforce and clients, and looking at how we can change or improve the way we work so people’s mental health is not at risk,” she said.

“Work is a big part of most people’s lives, so a positive and supportive workplace can mean the difference between people surviving and truly thriving.”

Mr Bara added that Clayton Utz aims to take a holistic view of health and wellbeing, together with the myriad contributing aspects affecting it.

“We know that a flexible and inclusive culture that promotes positive attitudes to mental health is a big factor in people’s wellbeing,” he explained.

“We take a consultative approach that focuses on understanding an individual’s needs so we can best support them as they go through different challenges and stages of life.”

Some of the actions the law firm has taken include training up one out of eight employees as “mental health champions” or mental health first aiders, implementing its new employee assistance program, CU Assist, and investing in psychological rehabilitation programs that focus on early return to work as key to successful recovery.

Jerome Doraisamy

Jerome Doraisamy

Jerome Doraisamy is a senior writer for Lawyers Weekly and Wellness Daily at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in early 2018, Jerome is admitted as a solicitor in New South Wales and, prior to joining the team in early 2018, he worked in both commercial and governmental legal roles and has worked as a public speaker and consultant to law firms, universities and high schools across the country and internationally. He is also the author of The Wellness Doctrines self-help book series and is an adjunct lecturer at The University of Western Australia.

Jerome graduated from the University of Technology, Sydney with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Social Inquiry).

You can email Jerome at: [email protected] 

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