Support for mentally ill superannuation employees

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A survey of Australian super fund executives and group insurers who attended an event run by a superannuation mental health foundation in Melbourne shows employers are beginning to understand the importance of the mental health and wellbeing of employees.

One in five Australians experience mental illness in any given year and nearly half of the Australian population aged 16-85 experience a mental health issue in their life time.

Therefore workplaces need to support employees and keep them in work irrespective of whether they are living with a mental illness, mental health foundation SuperFriend CEO Margo Lydon said.

Providing a positive work environment means staff productivity increases, there is a reduction in staff turnover and overall morale improves, she said.

Sixty per cent of respondents said their workplace currently invests in promoting mental health and wellbeing, which was “an encouraging first step”, said Lydon.

“We understand that Australian businesses have a multitude of priorities and it is a difficult task to juggle all of these. However, businesses need to understand that people are their greatest asset and there are a range of benefits from creating a mentally healthy workplace which impact both the culture and the profitability of the company.”

According to the survey 43% of group insurers believe improved morale and job satisfaction is the reason Australian workplaces should promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Thirty per cent said increased staff productivity was the second main reason.

“There are a number of initiatives employers can implement to nurture a healthy workplace. It can be as simple as encouraging workers to connect with their colleagues…Workplaces will also benefit from training staff in early detection of mental illness and on supporting employees while they seek assistance,” said Lydon.

SuperFriend is a national foundation aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of industry superannuation fund members, employers and staff.