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Risk Management Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Guest Contributor: Vic Hardy Despite growing awareness that mental illness is widespread throughout the entire community, Australias top companies are ...

Freddie Pierce
|Apr 12|magazine6 min read

Guest Contributor: Vic Hardy

Despite growing awareness that mental illness is widespread throughout the entire community, Australia’s top companies are failing to recognise and manage mental health risk in the workplace.

A poll of ASX Top 300 companies by Chartered Secretaries Australia (CSA) revealed that over 40 per cent of participants did not perceive mental illness as a potential risk to their organisation, and of those that did, close to half, said their organisation did not have policies in place to manage this risk. 

In addition, nearly 70 per cent did not have a dedicated and properly trained resource to identify and manage an employee suffering from mental illness, the poll found.

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According to CSA’s chief executive Mr Tim Sheehy, ‘Despite widespread commentary on the extent of mental health in the community, it still has not registered on the corporate radar. In fact concern about mental health in the workplace seems to be at a similar stage as we were with OH&S in the construction industry 30 years ago when one or two fatalities were widely considered as an ‘unfortunate’ cost of doing business. That degree of indifference would simply not be tolerated today. 

‘Just as companies now have comprehensive OH&S policies and practices in place and a highly engaged board and executive to oversee and manage the risk of physical injury in the workplace, they also need to have similar practices in place to manage the risk of an employee suffering a mental illness.

‘Statistics show that as many as one in five Australians suffers from mental illness, meaning there is a very strong likelihood that at some stage in our working lives many of us will work with someone suffering from some form of mental illness which may or may not have been diagnosed,’ Mr Sheehy said.

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