UTS has become the first Australian university to sign on to SANE Australia’s Mindful Employer Charter principles – a national commitment to improving mental health in the workplace.
SANE Australia is one of Australia's leading mental health charities which works to help all Australians affected by mental illness lead a better life through support, training, and education.
"Signing the SANE Mindful Employer Charter is an important mechanism to help us deliver against our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our staff," said UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs.
Becoming a Mindful Employer builds on the work UTS has already been doing in the area of mental health and wellbeing. UTS has a strong focus on creating awareness and reducing stigma around mental health issues (and disability more broadly) as part of its Access and Inclusion Plan.
The UTS Equity and Diversity team provides training for staff and students in mental health awareness and mental health first aid, while the Safety and Wellbeing team runs events and information sessions throughout the year to support mental wellbeing.
"We know that one in five Australian workers experience mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety at any given time, but many workplaces still do not realise the importance of their employees' mental health," Professor Brungs said. "I am hopeful that the Mindful Employer initiative will help UTS create a healthier, happier, productive organisation."
Supporting someone with a mental health issue can be as easy as being open, honest, and having the courage to simply ask how someone is feeling. If someone appears to be showing signs of distress, behaving out of character, or failing to meet workplace expectations, supervisors and colleagues should find an appropriate moment to have a chat and find out if they're doing OK.
If the answer is 'no', be understanding and encourage them to speak to a GP, an employee assistance program, or support service such as SANE Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263) or Lifeline 13 11 14. Workplace adjustments like roster changes, role changes, or location changes might also help them in the short-term.
In signing the charter, UTS joins other leading employers in this area including the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, The Smith Family, Kmart and Fire and Rescue NSW.