Mental Health Month: How to look out for your employees’ mental health

October 2020 is Mental Health Month. With many people in Australian workplaces displaced and negatively affected by COVID-19, AustralianSuper sat down with mental health and wellbeing experts, SuperFriend, who shared some tips and guidance on how you can help your employees during this time.

Mental Health Month gives employers the chance to highlight mental wellbeing with their people and let them know they’re here to offer support.

‘Employers are playing a more important role in the mental health of their people than ever before, with leaders really stepping up to the plate,’ says SuperFriend Impact Manager, Renada Lee.

We’ve had a major increase in demand for our workplace mental health and wellbeing services since the pandemic began1,’ says Renada. 

Promoting good mental health can positively impact your business says Carly Webster, Solutions Manager – Workplace Mental Health & Wellbeing, ‘This is shown in multiple studies, including research by SafeWork Australia2. Knowing how to support the positive mental health of all employees can help an organisation to succeed,’ says Carly. ‘Particularly through the remainder of the pandemic – but beyond that too.’

‘Maintaining a human-centred focus on employee wellbeing for the long term is key,’ says Carly. ‘In Australia we continue to see individual mental health decline outside the workplace, so we see workplace support becoming increasingly important.’


Signs your employees may need some extra support

‘The workplace (virtual or otherwise) provides a crucial environment for employers to observe the changes in daily behaviour, which could signal that someone might need extra support. This can look different for each individual, so knowing how people behave on a good day is vital to being able to detect if something’s changed,’ says Carly. 

It’s also important to be aware of some common signs of declining mental health, such as:

Changes in language and interactions 
  • Displaying a lack of interest in things they would normally enjoy or be involved in 
  • Withdrawing from those around them 
  • Struggling to perform at their usual work standard
  • showing signs of suicide ideation, which may include talking about feeling hopeless or seeing their activities or life as pointless (generally less common in a work environment)
Physical signs
  • low in energy, tired and fatigued
  • having trouble sleeping or experiencing insomnia
  • struggling to concentrate on a task, remember things or make decisions
  • experiencing some physical pains such as headaches, or
  • losing their appetite

If you notice signs that someone might need some support, there are several actions you can take:

  • Communicate that you’ve observed these changes which will provide a safe and judgement-free way to prompt a conversation about how someone is travelling
  • Follow SuperFriend’s Art of Checking In guide which will help you to effectively navigate the ‘checking in’ process.

If you have serious concerns about someone’s immediate safety – please call 000 straight away.


AustralianSuper supports SuperFriend

AustralianSuper partners with workplace wellbeing organisation, SuperFriend, to help support our registered employers build positive, supportive and mentally well workplaces.

With 1 in 5 Australians navigating mental health challenges in any year, and almost half during their lifetime, we know this is something we can only improve together.



Additional resources from SuperFriend


1.– Demand for mental health training increases     
2. SafeWorkAustralia – Creating a mentally healthy workplace        

This information is general financial advice which doesn’t take into account your personal objectives, situation or needs. Before making a decision about AustralianSuper, you should think about your financial requirements and refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement. AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788, Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898. 

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