Mental illness in Australia has a significant impact on our society individually, socially and economically.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that approximately one in five Australian adults aged 16 to 85 years will experience at least one of the common forms of mental illness throughout any given year.

On review of their existing mental health procedures, Port Stephens Council - winner of the 2018 Best WHS Improvement (Large organisation) award - saw an opportunity to improve on how mental health issues are identified, approached, managed and followed up within the workplace.

For Nicole Le Grange, Port Stephens Council Work Health and Safety Manager, being recognised for their efforts in the mental health space is something they are incredibly proud of.

“It's an amazing achievement for Port Stephens Council to be recognised at the 2018 Hunter Safety Awards for its leading workplace mental health program,” Nicole said.

Although many workplaces run initiatives that focus on raising awareness and discussing the importance of mental health, at Port Stephens Council they have backed this awareness with real support and follow up.

Council see these extra steps as equally important. They believe that this full cycle of support will build resilience and improve recovery from mental health issues in the long term.

“It’s wonderful to be recognised as a leader in the WHS space, but what is really gratifying is the real and lasting changes we’ve been able to implement in our workplace. We set out to get people talking and reduce the stigma that so often comes with mental health, and I think we’ve been able to achieve that,” Nicole continued.

The award for Best Work Health and Safety Improvement (Large Organisation) brings Council’s total to six safety-related awards in as many years.

Given their massive achievements in the WHS space, we asked Nicole if she had any advice for organisations looking to implement mental health initiatives.

“Council encourages other organisations looking to implement mental health initiatives to think past hard hats and hi-vis,” Nicole said. “At Port Stephens Council, we’ve moved beyond the physical to consider our workers’ overall health.”

“We want to send our workers home in the same or better condition than how they came to work – and that goes for mental health just as much as physical health.”

 

CLICK HERE to enter the 2019 Hunter Safety Awards.