Annette Phung

Mental well-being has become a hot topic over the past couple of years, right up there with diversity, sustainability, and Game of Thrones. As a young person who’s had my fair share of ups and downs in life, I feel it is one of my sacred duties to help demystify and destigmatise mental illness as much as possible.

One in five Australians have taken time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy. Those who choose to go to work in spite of their ill mental health end up costing Australian workplaces around $6.1 billion dollars per year in presenteeism (being physically present, but not fully productive.) Nearly one in two Australians will experience some kind of mental health condition at some point in their lives.

If that sounds morose, never fear. There are many ways to improve workplace culture by supporting the mental well-being of your employees.

I’m proud to work at a company that values mental well-being as much as I do. Savv-e employs many different strategies to support their employees in the workplace. When a Savv-e employee feels unwell, they get to go home immediately with no further questions asked. They aren’t forced to explain whether their illness is mental or physical, and they certainly aren’t compelled to bring a doctor’s certificate with them upon returning to the office.

Even though we’re a fairly small company, we have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for any of us who need support. The service is completely anonymous, and we can talk about any issues that are troubling us, from professional stressors to personal difficulties. Here are just some of the topics that can be discussed with the EAP counselor:

  • Improving relationships/communication with others
  • Facing crisis and trauma
  • Grief and loss support
  • Strategies for handling conflict with colleagues or managers
  • Facing alcohol, drug or gambling addictions
  • Feeling depressed or down
  • Improving work performance
  • Assistance with financial and legal distress

That’s not all we do to support each other. At Savv-e, we understand that mental, physical, and social health are closely interlinked. We have regular team lunches to welcome and farewell employees, and our workplace culture is one where you’ll never be afraid to ask for help or suggest a new idea. Sometimes, we even organise YouTube yoga sessions at Friday lunchtime. It’s a rare and wonderful thing to exercise with your colleagues – especially when you’re all struggling together to recreate the perfect downward dog.

Promoting mental well-being through our professional work, by taking on projects that we know will have a positive impact on people’s lives is something we also do at Savv-e. We make eLearning modules on mental health, workplace harassment, safe practices… basically any topic under the well-being umbrella that you can think of. Learning is all about personal growth, and we want to help people recognise their own mental health-related symptoms and ask for assistance if required.

Savv-e’s mental wellness journey is far from over. We want to do better. We want to maintain an open discussion about mental health in the workplace; we want to support each other in big and small ways every day; we want to achieve a good work-life balance, whatever that means for us as individuals. Working hard has never been our top priority. Our wellbeing, passion, and curiosity are the reservoirs in which we find our success.

Here’s one more statistic to end on: do you know what happens to 75% of the people who access treatment for their mental health conditions?

They get better.

Discover how your business can help destigmatise mental health through creating an interactive wellness elearning series.