Updated: Sep 15
More than seventy Western Australians from all walks of life gathered together on September 5th at the Small Business Development Centre to discuss a cause close to many hearts: good health and wellbeing in the workplace. Hosted by the United Nations Association of Australia WA (UNAAWA), this panel event was the third in the inaugural Business & Sustainability Forum series, which aim to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); to date, the Forums have covered themes such as environmental sustainability and good governance.
The Hon. Alanna Clohesy MLC commenced the event by addressing the relevance of mental health to productivity, and the need for a commitment to normalising discourse surrounding mental health. Speakers at this month’s events included David Eaton (Small Business Commissioner of WA), Michael O’Hanlon (Workplace Engagement Manager, Beyond Blue), Scott Montgomery (Co-Founder, WellteQ) and Neesha Seth (Registered Psychologist, PeopleSense). Sharing their diverse experiences, insights and expertise, the speakers led a fascinating discussion facilitated by UNAAWA Vice President Dr. Sandy Chong.
Subjects discussed included barriers to optimal wellbeing management in the workplace, measures which can be taken in industry to promote mental health, success stories, and government & regulatory support; some recognised barriers included competing priorities, low mental health literacy, and stigma, while suggested measures to facilitate positive change included planning & baseline assessment, the importance of strong leadership, and fostering cultural change to make mental health part of the conversation in WA workplaces.
Discussion then turned to how colleagues can support each other, where small business can start in order to facilitate change, and how young people can be educated for better mental health outcomes in their career journeys. The panel spoke of the strong potential offered by disruptive innovation to enhance mental health & wellbeing, and the importance of a quantitative approach that can be used to assess changes within the spectrum of mental health. Speakers also reiterated that the onus is on everybody at all levels of an organisation to participate in a cultural shift away from the stigma that surrounds these issues, and that strong leadership is vital to facilitating that change.