Corporate Australia in mental health push

Corporate Australia is being recruited to play a greater role in addressing the nation's mental health battle.

One-in-five Australians are affected by mental health, costing the economy $60 billion a year of which $13 billion hurts business through lost wages and productivity, a report released on Friday shows.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers report, commissioned by business strategy group Shared Value Project, calls on organisations to put first the wellbeing of people - including staff, shareholders and customers - while also boosting their bottom line.

The strategy is based on the theory that companies can only be as successful as the world in which they operate, so there's a financial benefit in addressing mental health.

For every dollar spent on mental health, businesses get an average return of $2.30, the report noted.

Workers need to be have a greater understanding of their value to the organisation and be given the tools and opportunity to grow, the report found.

Corporations are being urged to create positive physical and psychological environments and ensure products and services are not negatively impacting on the health and wellbeing of workers.

"It would be foolish not to recognise that business can only thrive if each of these cohorts is thriving alongside them," lawyer and economist Allan Fels said in the report.

The former consumer watchdog chairman is also leading Victoria's royal commission into mental health.

"The prevalence of mental illness and its impact on our weakening economic growth rate calls for an urgent response from business," he added.

"For the industries most impacted by poor mental health, such as financial services, this is not only a competitive business opportunity, but vital risk mitigation.

"Companies rely on the productivity and prosperity of their stakeholders, and they limit their success if this isn't taken into account."

Shared Value Project chief executive Helen Steel said healthier people led to a healthier bottom line.

"Addressing mental ill-health can increase employee efficiency and attendance, improve customer engagement and financial stability, and create more thriving communities to do business with," she said.

The research has been launched ahead of World Mental Health Day next Thursday.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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