mental healthAccording to facts and figures from the Black Dog Institute, mental illnesses are very prevalent and affect about 20% of the population of Australia in any given year. Since most of us spend nearly a third of our days in offices and other workspaces, organisations need to do their part to ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to create a healthy working environment.

The following tips can help you create a healthier environment for your staff, volunteers and others who work in or visit your nonprofit’s facilities.

Flexible Scheduling

Most of us find it challenging at times to juggle all of our responsibilities and demands between our personal and professional lives. Offering flexible schedules can make it easier for everyone to achieve better work/life balance and reduce the pressure and stress in their lives.

Allowing workers from different departments to cross-train and share duties is also a way to help workers to learn new skills, and combat boredom, which many also find stressful. While many organisations feel increased pressure to tighten their belts and control costs, expanding your workforce so that heavy workloads are reduced and spread out will reduce stress and improve morale.


Does everyone in your organisation know how to spot signs of mental illness? Some of the most common symptoms include a recent change in habits, personality and behaviour, as well as a decline in performance, social withdrawal, and mood swings. Of course, just because someone is having a bad day, or may exhibit these or other signs from time to time does not necessarily mean that they are mentally ill but may be a sign that they need extra support and someone to listen to them.

Do you know who to turn to if you suspect that you or someone that you work with is going through a difficult time and needs someone to talk to?

Mental illnesses are very treatable and providing extra support can make it easier for your workers to be able to get the help that they need, as well as improve their performance. Consider offering training to help your workforce be able to recognise the signs of possible mental illness.

Implement a wellness policy that encourages open communication and that provides resources and professional referrals for workers that may need extra support. Ask a professional counsellor or therapist to come in and offer your workforce tips and techniques that they can practice reducing their stress levels and regain their focus, such as deep breathing and relaxation exercises and how to use mindfulness to gain clarity and peace.

Eliminate Stigma and Harassment

Take steps to eliminate negative bias in your workplace. Mental health is just as important as our physical well-being, and mental illnesses are just as severe as those that affect the rest of our bodies. Take steps to eliminate stereotypes in your workplace and adopt a no-tolerance policy towards words and speech that ridicule, mock or otherwise degrade those who suffer from mental illnesses or that downplay their seriousness.

Encouraging Open Communication

When your volunteers or staff make you aware of a concern, look for ways to be supportive. Consider offering adjustments to their workload and schedule to reduce stress. Encourage others to share their concerns and emotions, so that they feel free to open up about their challenges.

Let your workers know that they can trust you to treat any information that they give you with the utmost confidentiality. Encourage them to be evaluated by a professional and to seek treatment if necessary. Reassure them that they will not face any negative consequences for seeking treatment for their condition and make sure that you schedule them the time that they need to be away from their work to get the assistance that they need to recover.