Men in Australia are three times more likely than women to commit suicide, and in many cases, they have no history of ever being diagnosed with a mental illness. This suggests that many men still suffer with depression in silence and need to be encouraged to speak up.
Men’s mental health week kicks off from the 11th June this year, and with it, comes the yearly reminder to engage in dialogue around the issue.
Andrew Jewell, principal lawyer at employment law firm McDonald Murholme, says that employers should use this week as an opportunity to join in the conversation.
“By creating a dialogue around mental health, employers can ensure it is not a taboo topic within the workplace.
“This is particularly necessary when it comes to men, who, as statistics suggest, are more reluctant to open up about their mental wellbeing.”
Mr Jewell says that all employers should have a policy to support those suffering with mental illness, and that employees should be made aware of it.
“By having a process in place, it not only assists the employer in dealing with the matter appropriately, but also gives employees confidence in knowing that there is support, should they need it.”
Mr Jewell warns that although employers should facilitate discussion around mental health, they cannot force anyone to participate.
“An employee is not legally obliged to disclose any mental health issues they are having, and employers must respect privacy and anti-discrimination legislation such as the Fair Work Act 2009 (cth).