Dealing with mental health issues is difficult, and statistics show that it’s something business owners will have to face more often, whether they are coping with the illness themselves or helping their employees deal with it.
Speaking to REB’s sister publication Lawyers Weekly on The Lawyers Weekly Show podcast, Sam Refshauge, the CEO of not-for-profit mental health organisation batyr, says at least 20 per cent of Australians suffer from some form of mental illness.
“If you look at the statistics, we’re actually not heading in a great direction,” Mr Refshauge said.
“The ABS released their Causes of Death report [last] year and suicide across all age ranges is actually at a 10-year high.
“... Suicide is a result of many different causes, mental ill health being one of those. It’s pretty harrowing and pretty scary.”
Mr Refshauge said only 20 to 30 per cent of Australians with mental health issues are getting the help they need.
“You take step back from that, and ... you think about what you can do to change it,” he said.
“Big campaigns that [organisations like beyondblue have] been running and the advocacy that they’ve been doing across the country are to get awareness out there, [and they have] really shifted the mental health literacy and the understanding of what’s going on...”
“I especially think in the last five years or so, the willingness to have a conversation, the willingness to admit that mental health is an issue that we need to talk about and need to address, is really taking a shift,” Mr Refshauge added.
He said business owners can do their part to help mental illness sufferers. A big part of this involves being flexible with working hours.
“[Business leaders need] to create an empathetic environment in which people feel OK to say, ‘Look, I’m not feeling up to it today. I need to take the day off’ or ‘Look, I feel like I’m overrun, I’m getting too stressed about what’s going on. I need some support here’,” he said.
“I think over the next five years, we’re really going to see that, because people can no longer hide from the terrible statistics that we’re currently facing.”
If you’d like to talk to someone or refer an employee, friend or relative, you can call beyondblue’s support service on 1300 22 4636.