Work and mental health

Mentally healthy work and why it matters

Everyone feels anxious occasionally. However, when these feelings persist, occur without any specific reason, or make it difficult to cope with daily life, it may be a sign of an anxiety condition.

In Australia, anxiety conditions affect 1 in 4 people, and they are treatable.

Key facts - mental health at work

Work can come in many different forms. But mentally healthy workplaces generally have a few things in common. They:

  • Protect against risks to mental health. Mentally healthy work prevents harm to your mental health. Among other things, this means fair workloads. Fair work practices. And a safe environment.
  • Promote wellbeing and the positive aspects of work. Mentally healthy work means things such as fairness, inclusion, and employee development. Good culture thrives from good work.
  • Support people with poor mental health. In a mentally healthy workplace, your mental health is prioritised. Awareness, capability, commitment, and meaningful support exist. To help workers feel better, earlier.

Mental health at work

In Australia, there have been significant improvements to become more mentally healthy at work, but there is more work to do.

For businesses, mentally healthy work:

Building a mentally healthy workplace

‘Work design’ includes your work tasks and activities. The people you interact with. The responsibilities you have. And how all of those things are organised.

Work design can influence how you feel at work. Poor work design can add frustration, stress, or boredom. Good work design can help you feel clear, organised and able to deliver.

In Australia, there are protections and responsibilities relating to mental health in discrimination, privacy, and work health and safety laws.

Workplace health and safety (WHS) laws require work to be reasonably safe for all. This includes measuring and managing risks to mental health.

Disability discrimination laws make it unlawful to discriminate against people with disabilities, including mental health conditions.

Discrimination includes both direct and indirect actions. So not making reasonable adjustments to support your needs can be a type of discrimination.

Under Australian privacy law, a worker’s personal information is generally protected and can only be shared in certain circumstances. This includes information about your mental health.