A sobering truth about modern day wellness is that Australian employees would rather take a sick day and attribute it to a fictitious illness than admit it is for mental health purposes, according to a paper released today by Allianz Australia.
Aimed at helping employers cultivate thriving workplaces, the paper ‘Awareness into action: A holistic approach to cultivating mentally healthy workplaces in Australia’ highlights the enduring stigma associated with mental ill-health in the workplace and the need for a perception shift to see mental ill-health treated like other physical illnesses.
The paper comes in response to research commissioned by Allianz Australia that revealed the vast majority of full-time working Australians (93%) are uncomfortable discussing or disclosing a mental health condition to a manager, and instead would prefer to lie when taking sick day.
In fact, the research found that eighty-five per cent of employees feel their manager is more likely to think their need for time off is genuine if they say they are suffering from a cold or flu rather than for stress or anxiety.
Overall, most employees are generally afraid to talk about mental illness for fear of stigma (90%), and fear of losing their job (78%), and are concerned that mental health issues won’t be taken as seriously as physical illnesses in the workplace (84%).
Mental health-related conditions and symptoms now account for nearly 40 per cent of all Allianz Australia’s total active workers compensation claims and 11 per cent of all payments.
Helen Silver, Chief General Manager, Allianz Australia said, “We know good worker health and wellbeing boosts organisational health, business performance and productivity, however, there is a rising trend of mental ill-health in Australian workplaces which needs to be addressed.”
“The findings from our research indicate that, despite the progress made by both the public and private sectors, there is still a lot of work to be done by employers to address misconceptions when it comes to mental ill-health.”
According to the paper, for a modern workplace to thrive, it is important that employers adopt a holistic approach that encompasses five key action areas to put the employee at the centre of the mental ill-health equation. These areas are: