Mental health costs to small businesses

Over one million Australians live with depression, and over two million have anxiety. As one of the largest employment sectors in Australia, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are highly likely to face a mental health related issue.

As risk experts brokers are already aware of the costs associated with workplace health and safety (WHS) but the idea of health and safety generally stops at physical risks.

However, work-related mental disorders (also known as psychological injuries) have become a major concern in Australian workplaces each year:

  • 7,500 Australians are compensated for work-related mental disorders, equating to around 6 per cent of workers’ compensation claims
  • approximately $480 million is paid in workers’ compensation for work-related mental disorders.

Billie Goat Soap founder and winner of several business awards, Leanne Faulkner spoke about mental health in a small business environment at a recent Dive In Festival session organised by the Steadfast Group.

Steadfast Group MD and CEO, Robert Kelly said at the session, “Healthy people mean a healthy business and mental health is just another part of over-all well-being.”

Faulkner who built a multi-million-dollar venture from her kitchen table is also a mental health advocate who spoke about her own journey and about practical tools that can be implemented into the workplace to help normalise mental health.

Whether a business owner or employee is undiagnosed and struggling through the warning signs, or is being treated for a condition and is trying to find their normal balance, mental health issues are often internalised and many of the external warning signs may be viewed as simply poor performance. She urged those present to make mental health a normal part of work and spoke about looking out for red flags to ensure continued success of a business.

She said, “Look after yourself and let your staff know you recognise the importance of mental wellbeing at work.”

“You can change the workplace culture slowly by going to events that highlight the impact of mental health at work, be open to conversations about it and most definitely get involved with Heads up and Flying Solo.”

Faulkner reminded those present at the session that business owners and entrepreneurs usually face a whole different set of challenges and they must remember to focus on self-care.

She added, “Invest in your mental health even when you feel great and create a safe space for people to open up.”