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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.

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.

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