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Supporting employee mental health a business ‘non-negotiable’

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

Positive mental health should be a key consideration for leaders as it can help to get the most out of their employees.

“Being aware that your people are human beings with feelings and emotions and that drives their behaviours is critically important to creating a good culture,” said Dr Patrick Aouad, chief executive and co-founder of CU Health.

“Mental health is a software that people run on to do their job. So, everybody in the community, and especially in businesses, understand and don’t just promote it. Having solutions in place that can proactively prevent and manage mental health issues; it’s essential, I don’t think it’s negotiable.”


Dr Aouad discussed some of the ways that employers can promote a healthy work culture that values the mental health of staff.

“The starting point to address mental health in the workplace is firstly, to talk about mental health openly and regularly, and to acknowledge as leaders that we’re all human, and that we all carry baggage and that we all go through hard times, and create an open and psychologically safe work environment to express things that are more personal,” he explained.

Being open and expressing feelings with those around you can create a sense of belonging and community.

“Everybody wants to feel like they belong to something. And everybody wants to feel as though they’re contributing to something important. I think that you can only bring your whole self to an organisation, so creating an environment where mental health can be discussed is important,” said Dr Aouad.

“[It’s important to have] support services in place that can proactively assist employees and support them, but those services need to be robust. And they needed to [be] sustainable. We can’t afford to have Band-Aid treatments; it needs to be a consistent approach. Because things can go wrong any time, and you never know how long it will take for someone to improve.”

He added: “I think when businesses and organisations recognise that they can invest in their people that way that it will really pay dividends for the business and also be doing a great thing for another human being.”

Plenty of companies have been introducing policy to assist in promoting healthy wellbeing for employees.

Deakin University is one such organisation that is expanding its Counting On U (COU) program in the hopes of providing better financial support and mental health for its customers.

Heart On My Sleeve is another organisation that offers programs to help companies support staff. The founder, Mitch Wallis, joined HR Leader to discuss why mental health discussion is so important and why the workplace is one of the key places to address it.

“I think the workplace is such a crucial environment to make mental health impact. A, because we just spend so much time there. B, because we’re legally obligated as employers to create a psychologically safe environment,” said Mr Wallis.

“It’s not a negotiable thing. It’s not a choice. It’s the right thing to do, human to human, to allow people to feel like they can bring more of their real self to work.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.