Addressing and supporting mental health within the workplace

Hon. Scott Farlow, Pedro Diaz and Glenn Lazarus.

A leading authority in the management of workplace mental health issues has launched a training program for those in management positions to address and support mental health issues within the workplace.

Designed by the Workplace Mental Health Institute, the program was specifically tailored to provide leaders, managers, business owners and company directors with information and tools to support their staff.

The program was launched by the Hon Scott Farlow, Glenn Lazarus and the institute’s founder Pedro Diaz.

Mr Diaz is an accredited mental health social worker and educator, who also made reference to his own past battle with mental health issues.

“Many people do not realise that some 20% of suicides can be work related. Mental health issues kill people and they kill business,” he said.

“Clearly more needs to be done across the country to address workplace mental health issues.

“In order to help eradicate work related suicides and help organisations to build safe and productive workplaces and effective managers, we have developed a Master class that offers targeted and comprehensive advice for leaders and managers on how to improve the management of mental health in the workplace.  This could then reduce the risk to workers and businesses.”

Mental health issues can affect any workplace and industry and thus it is important for managers to be aware of how to assist and care for their staff.

Mr Diaz said at the end of the day a distressed person is still a human being regardless of the industry they work in.

Retail is one industry where Mr Diaz does see how fruitful the program has the potential to be for managers.

“We have some independent retail people come through and…as long as they’ve got people reporting to them, they’ve found it’s a benefit to do the master class,” he said.

“The more contact people have with their clients, the more important it is for your staff to be healthy because that’s going to affect the customer service.”

Mr Diaz said if the staff are happy, that will in turn affect how they are treating the customers, and those customers are going to return to the store to shop again.

“Sometimes people think ‘Well I only have a small shop in charge of three or four people’; well those three or four people can have a huge impact on the business. Take care of yourself as a manager, and that’s what we’ve found the key component in the workplace to make everything work well is the leader, the manager,” he said.

Mr Diaz also said loyalty to staff is crucial for a happy and balanced workplace.

“JB Hi-Fi is a good example, where they’ve said we’re going to pay weekend rates anyway regardless of the law. That’s a brilliant move by them, that’s going to send the message to their people ‘we love you’, ‘we care about you’ and ‘we support you’,” he said

“When a place refuses to pay the right amount, pay in full to the legal aspects of salaries…it sends a very bad message and they may think that they’re getting away with it but what we know is that many years later, these thing will come to back to them.”

Mr Diaz concluded that if companies and businesses don’t do anything about mental health, the business is going to suffer because of this neglect.

“You may not know it but its suffering, you’re losing money,” he said.

For more information on the Workplace Mental Health Institute, visit their website

If you or anyone you know is affected by depression or other mental health issues, support can be found by contacting: 

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