Thursday, October 6th, 2011
Like any other important organisational asset, the mental health of staff and business leaders in a workplace is of great importance. With Mental Health Week (9 – 15 October) approaching, it is now the perfect time for businesses to undertake a mental health check-up.

Mental illness is more common than most people realise. Around 45% of Australians aged between 16 and 85 will experience a mental illness at some point in their life, while one in five Australian adults will experience a mental illness in any given year.

Despite these overwhelming figures, awareness and understanding of mental health and how it can affect different aspects in one’s life is limited. In the workplace, a total of 3.2 days per worker are lost each year through workplace stress.

It is therefore important that business leaders are mindful of mental wellbeing in the workplace as this is integral for the creation of a healthy workplace, explains business coach Jerry Kleeman, who is a Chair at The Executive Connection (TEC).

“Most business leaders want to support their staff through difficult times, and just as importantly for the organisation, it makes good business sense to support staff who are either suffering from mental health issues or appear to be struggling with their workload,” says Jerry.

“Mental wellbeing in the workplace continues to be a major issue for all industries. In fact, TEC members have described stress and anxiety as one of their biggest workplace concerns. This has directed many discussions in terms of developing strategies that can be employed by businesses to ensure staff are supported and day to day operations can continue.”

Jerry’s advice for TEC members, and all businesses, is to identify sources of stress and anxiety to devise strategies that will help overcome these. Factors that may cause or contribute to mental wellbeing in the workplace include: meeting budgets and deadlines, working through financial worries (particularly for SMEs), absence due to illness and personal or professional conflicts in the workplace.

Acknowledging that many businesses do not have the expertise of a counsellor, Jerry shares some strategies and techniques useful for managing stress and anxiety in the workplace whether you are an employee, manager, business owner or CEO;

• Time management is crucial to keeping stress under control during busy work periods - use time effectively by working from a list every day.

• Make your 'to-do' list work for you - when you are flat out, narrow the list down to 'should-do' and 'must-do' tasks.

• Peer support – sharing experiences from your workplace with peers or a mentor through memberships such as TEC, helps to narrow down the problem and is an opportunity to identify effective strategies.

• Don't bottle up thoughts and feelings - there are acceptable and professional ways to express feelings in the workplace if there is a work related problem, which can become much worse when not shared.

• Be more assertive –don’t take a back seat and hope that everything will sort itself out, have the courage to address problems. A supportive work environment should encourage and assist staff to talk through problems or issues.

• The power of compromise – happy middle ground can be found through a conflict if all parties are willing to be open and cooperate with one another.

Mental Health Week is held annually in October to coincide with World Mental Health Day (10 October) and aims to encourage and raise awareness of mental health issues within the wider community.

Australian Bureau of Statistics National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing:Summary of Results 2007.
Medibank Private (2008) The Cost of Workplace Stress in Australia p6

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The Executive Connection (TEC)

The Executive Connection (TEC) is the Australian affiliate of Vistage International, Inc. with more than 14,500 members in 16 countries worldwide. It is the world’s foremost chief executive leadership group for ongoing professional and personal development, helping business CEOs become better leaders, make better decisions and drive better results for their organisations. TEC membership provides unparalleled access to new ideas and fresh thinking through monthly peer think-tanks, one-on-one business coaching and speaker presentations from the top industry experts, social networking and access to best practice articles, white papers and webinars.

TEC was founded in 1957 by US businessman Robert Nourse, to test a simple, yet revolutionary idea; business leaders sharing knowledge and experiences to help other business leaders to generate better results for their organisations. The idea was a great success and subsequently, TEC began in Australia in 1986 and currently has more than 1200 members. TEC / Vistage member companies generate nearly US$300 billion in annual revenue and employ approximately 1.8 million employees around the world. For more information please visit
Sarah Neville
P: (08) 8233 5929


The Executive Connection, TEC, peer support, mentor, mental health week, stress, anxiety, mental well-being



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