Companies urged to make mental health part of their daily routine

Sharon Kelley 15 June 2020
Mindstar CEO Aaron Williams will be at the next BAL HR Breakfast Club.

Mindstar CEO Aaron Williams will be at the next BAL HR Breakfast Club. Photo: Supplied.

Mindstar CEO Aaron Williams will be the guest presenter at Friday’s BAL HR Breakfast Club webinar, talking with human resources practitioners about how to ensure mental health is part of a regular health and fitness routine.

The webinar is part of a series designed to support HR practitioners at a time when additional stress is more likely to affect mental health.

BAL Lawyers’ Director of Employment Law and Investigations Gabrielle Sullivan said the collegiate HR Breakfast Club is not meeting face-to-face at the present time, but is conducting online webinars to help HR practitioners navigate the significant challenges we all face as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Ms Sullivan, “which exemplifies the approach Mindstar takes to mental health in the workplace.

“It will be an interesting webinar, and it provides a place to ask hard questions about how we manage workplace mental health under COVID-19.”

Mindstar CEO Aaron Williams said his organisation provides counselling services to employees as an employee assistance provider, and works with the employer to make mental health part of a company’s health routine.

“We start our training and education at the top, so the leadership of an organisation knows the approach we take,” said Mr Williams. “We know that organisations need to change the way they provide services to employees, and need to encourage a workforce which takes prevention seriously as part of a routine,” he said.

“The traditional model for employee assistance provision is outdated, and focusses on crisis intervention only, which doesn’t really help when it comes to prevention,” said Mr Williams.

“We prefer to think about the services we provide as preventative, providing training and education in addition to crisis intervention services so that people are able to actively manage their mental health. We’d prefer to be called a ‘wellbeing partner’ rather than an ’employee assistance provider’.

“We realise we can’t do it all, so we bring in partners who can. We have all kinds of different specialists, who each provide training and resources as needed to improve productivity and create an environment where the workforce is encouraged to use mental health resources as part of their normal health and wellness routine,” he said.

Mindstar also encourages individuals to recognise that all events might have an impact on their work lives, and their wellness, not just work-related incidents or situations.

“It’s normal to feel crappy from time to time,” said Mr Williams. “It’s okay to talk about it, and plenty you can do about it.”

There is good reason to re-think how organisations can support good mental health, including reducing insurance premiums. Mental illness costs the Australian economy $33 billion a year, and up to 33 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition every 12 months. Employee absenteeism is a problem for many employers, and mental health workers compensation claims are expensive and increasing in number.

BAL Lawyers Gabrielle Sullivan is encouraging HR practitioners to join the webinar, in Canberra and throughout the region.

“It’s a collegiate environment where HR practitioners can bounce ideas and issues off each other,” she said, “and we’re inviting anybody in the HR space who would like to attend to register. HR practitioners often work alone or in very small teams, and may not have access to new and better ways to manage the workforce,” she said.

If you would like to attend the online HR Breakfast Club to hear Mindstar CEO Aaron Williams speak about his approach to mental health and wellness in the workplace, you can register online or contact BAL Lawyers on 02 6274 0880.

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