5 Nov 2019

Since its inception in 2016, icare Foundation has aimed to create a positive impact to the lives of its customers.

To support the continuation and refinement of its approach, the foundation sought to understand its economic and social impact in financially quantified terms. As the New South Wales social insurer, they can now identify the economic and social value created through their investments.

Our research estimated the social and economic impact of 13 investments that support injury prevention, recovery and quality of life. The findings will drive future investment priorities to create the greatest social impact and best leverage funds for the benefit of New South Wales. 

You can read icare’s summary of our research here. Read more on the findings in the article originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald below.

Every dollar invested in improving mental health in the workplace can create social and economic benefits worth $65, as well as helping employers make savings from reduced sick leave and absenteeism.

New analysis by Urbis and commissioned by the icare Foundation, part of the NSW government’s agency icare which oversees insurance and care in the state, found the agency’s investment in mental wellbeing programs and research could return cost savings and boost productivity.

The report, released on Monday, found that for each manager trained in how to help staff with mental health problems, employers could save an average of $10,151 per year in reduced sick leave. An online program delivered by the Black Dog Institute, which provides resilience training to workers in high-risk industries including emergency services, has been used by 33,000 people and was found to provide $12 million in benefits through reduced absenteeism.

The findings follow the Australian Productivity Commission’s call for major reform last week when it released a report that found mental ill health and suicide cost Australia up to $180 billion a year.

Human resources manager for medical and consumer electronics company Philips, Kyla McLennan, has seen some of the benefits of training managers in how to identify staff in need of support. Training had given managers confidence to talk to staff who appeared to be struggling with mental health, she said. Staff were also less reluctant to take part in that conversation knowing their bosses had some awareness of the issue.

“Before the training the conversations were few and far between, but some people are starting to come forward now,” Ms McLennan said. “What we have learnt is that we need to be responsive to the team, but not be responsible. That might mean showing someone where to get help, but not being a counsellor.”

The whole organisation has greater awareness about mental health wellbeing, and with increased awareness our people are then able to get support and take appropriate action.

Kyla McLennan, HR Manager at Philips.

After one of her employees raised concerns about a family member, Philips offered help in the form of its employee assistance program and access to an online program provided by the Black Dog Institute.

“A month later the employee said ‘thanks so much, it has helped’. That employee felt supported,” Ms McLennan said.

“The whole organisation has greater awareness about mental health wellbeing, and with increased awareness our people are then able to get support and take appropriate action.”

Kate Robinson, health and wellbeing manager at equipment hire company Coates Hire in Mascot, said employees previously had access to standard employer assistance programs.

“We recognised that wasn’t enough and wanted to do more,” she said. “We also understand managers are the front line in being able to support their employees.”

The company partnered with the Black Dog Institute in a management training pilot program to help reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. It helped managers recognise warning signs, such as when someone became suddenly withdrawn, and guided the managers in how to have a non-threatening conversation.

“That means maintaining confidentiality, picking the right times to have a conversation and learning how to make adjustments in the workplace,” Ms Robinson said.

Associate Professor Samuel Harvey who leads the Black Dog Institute’s workplace mental health research program said managers were not expected to become therapists or counsellors. They just needed to know what questions to ask and where to refer the people.

“Managers are not required to solve the problem,” he said.

This article was originally published by Sydney Morning Herald

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