Nov 13, 2020

Australia: 45% of workers need mental health support

Georgia Wilson
2 min

Leading provider of total wellbeing, mental health and digital mental health services, Morneau Shepell, has released its monthly Mental Health Index. 

In the report the company detailed a consistent trend - negative mental health among Australians as the country enters into seven months following the outbreak of COVID-19.

The index for October was -11.3, indicating that the mental health of Australians is still at risk, with reduced workplace productivity and the need for mental health support fueling mental strains.

Workplace productivity

In the report the workplace productivity index (-13.8) is lower than all sub-scores in October. However, increased flexibility reportedly is maintaining motivation. Among the respondents 80% reported having flexible hours, with 37% identifying that flexible work helps with productivity.

Those that reported increased productivity had a mental health score of -10.3, while those that felt flexible hours reduced their productivity had a mental health score of -20.4.

"Though the country has seen an incredible near-elimination of COVID-19 in recent weeks, it's important to remember that employee expectations have changed since before the pandemic. Employees have come to expect flexibility from their employers. Understanding that routines have changed and adapting policies to meet this shift will be critical to continue supporting employees' physical and mental wellbeing. This has never been more important as we continue to see a direct link between employee mental health and business success,” commented Jamie MacLennan, managing director, Australia and APAC.

Reduced hours

While 94% of respondents remain employed, 22% reported reduced hours and salary since April 2020.

Those that reported reduced hours had the lowest metal health scores at -18.9, while those not employed had a score of -17.0 and those on reduced salaries scored -16.3.

In addition, despite working fewer hours, 42% of respondents reported that they were putting in more effort at work. 

"Australians are now being encouraged to return to the physical workplace and while this will bring a sense of normalcy, employers need to continue prioritizing workplace mental health strategies. Changes in routine and ongoing uncertainty about the pandemic remain ongoing stressors. Overall, Australia has handled the pandemic very well. Ensuring employee mental health is a key business priority will be critical to making sure the mental health crisis is mitigated as successfully as the physical pandemic,” added Paula Allen, senior vice president of research, analytics and innovation. 

For more information on business topics in Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief APAC.

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