Australian Insurance Providers Tackle Mental Health in the Workplace

Two of Australia’s largest insurers have joined forces with some of Australia’s biggest employers to tackle mental health in the workplace.

AIA Australia and Allianz Australia will be joined by 13 other founding members and participants including  Woolworths Group, Coles Group, Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, Clayton Utz, King & Wood Mallesons, MinterEllison, DLA Piper Bunnings Group, AIA Australia, Allianz Australia, Commonwealth Bank, Deloitte, KPMG, Microsoft Australia, and PwC Australia.

The businesses have come together to form the Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia (CMHAA), a new business-led, expert-guided member organisation dedicated to improving mental health in the workplace for all Australians.

Helen Silver, Chief General Manager, Corporate, Governance & Conduct, Allianz Australia believes business needs to act. “At Allianz, we’re actively working with Australian businesses and mental health partners to drive positive action and promote mentally healthy workplaces. Our recent Future Thriving Workplaces report has showcased the long-term impact mental health conditions can have on individuals’ holistic wellbeing.”

“We’ve learnt that it is critical to intervene early before issues become entrenched. But if we are to get people to seek help early, we need to reduce the stigma associated with asking for that help. If leaders open up about mental health, it quickly becomes a part of our everyday and overall health conversations,” said Silver.

Allianz Australia jointly with National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) has also produced A NIBA Brokers’ Guide to Mental Health that you can access here.

Ben Fitzpatrick, Workplace Health & Safety Manager, AIA Group knows how vital the workplace is to driving change.
“Regrettably, I believe mental health is still seen as a bit taboo in some circles. I want to see it openly accepted within the broader community and within workplaces. For this to happen, we all need to create an environment that encourages anyone that has any issues, to feel they can seek help and be supported. My goal is to create an environment that others have created for me. That’s providing an open workplace for people to be themselves, to be vulnerable, and if they need to share their story, they can without being judged.”

Lucy Brogden, Chair, National Mental Health Commission, Chair, Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, one of 15 members on CMHAA’s expert advisory group says there’s a growing awareness of the need for businesses to go beyond the “yoga and fruit bowl” approach to addressing mental health in the workplace.

“The Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia has the potential to be a powerful voice for change on workplace mental health. It’s effectively an extensive network of mental health champions across the Australian business community, who are each saying in unison, this is really important to us. We are committed to this. We are here to be a part of the change,” stated Brogden.

There is no better time for the Alliance to be formed:

  • Mental health issues are prevalent amongst Australian workers: One in five working Australians report experiencing a mental illness in the past year.
  • The human and business cost of mental ill-health is high: The cost to the Australian economy of mental ill-health and suicide is in the order of $43 to $51 billion per year. Approximately $130 billion cost associated with diminished health and reduced life expectancy for those living with mental ill-health.