“Creating wellness at work is more than giving people free fruit” – Anon

The fact is 3 million Australians are living with anxiety or depression. Whether it’s directly work-related or not, the environment you work in will have a significant impact on your mental health.

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as a state of well-being, not illness, and whether you’re an employee or an employer, the state of our psychological well-being affects us all.

However, it’s not all about yoga classes and free fruit. How do you actually improve wellness in the workplace?

1. Communicate

Having someone you feel comfortable talking to at work is essential for your mental well-being. If you’re feeling stressed, depressed, or anxious, who would you tell?

If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to your manager, establish a connection with another senior person who you feel you can trust. Make them your first point of contact and ask them to help communicate your situation to the relevant people.

Good managers will encourage positive interwork relationships and speak openly about how workplace wellness and mental health are important.

The heads up communication pack is a great resource to use for employers who want to share their commitment to promoting mental wellness internally.

2. Maintain your own vitality

Often when people feel stressed they squirrel themselves away and try to do even more work. This only leads to more stress which is detrimental to health and productivity.

Instead, leave your desk on time and do something you enjoy. Socialising could be the last thing you feel like doing, but spending time with other people often has a revitalizing effect.

Arrange a weekly catch-up with your close friends, go see a movie every Thursday, or buy a ticket to a gig every month. Whatever it is, doing something that makes you feel rejuvenated outside of work is a simple and effective way to improve your mental health.

Headsup.org.au provides plenty of helpful advice on how to keep your mental health in check during work hours.

3. Promote wellness at work

Mental health is a highly personal and complex issue and what facilitates wellness for one person may not work for the next. To instill a truly wellness-focused culture, initiatives should be flexible and suit individual needs.

Australian vitamin company Swisse, who has been recognized as an employer of choice for several years running, invest in a number of successful wellness initiatives. This includes offering staff additional ‘health and happiness’ days to spend however they wish, giving each person the opportunity to invest time in whatever improves their personal well-being.

Other simple initiatives include allowing people to work remotely, or offering flexible working hours.

If your employees are happy your workplace culture will thrive, so it’s a small trade-off in the long-term.

Our charity partner, beyondblue, specialises in providing Australians with the help and advice they need to improve mental health, in or out of the workplace. If you would like to donate to their cause, speak to someone about how you’re feeling, or get more advice on promoting mental health in the workplace contact beyondblue for immediate support.