Living and working with a mental illness

04 July, 2013

UNSW is leading nationwide research into creating healthy workplaces for people with mental disorders.

The University and The Black Dog Institute are among the founding members of the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, a landmark partnership between business, the mental health sector, government and research organisations.

"Depression alone costs the Australian economy more than $12 billion a year," says UNSW Medicine's Dr Sam Harvey, who is leading the research.

"Most of the financial burden is born by employers in terms of sick leave and lost opportunity because people are not performing at their best," says Dr Harvey, who is a senior lecturer in Workplace Mental Health in UNSW's School of Psychiatry, based at the Black Dog Institute.

The researchers are asking businesses to put forward their examples of best practice by the end of July, which will be incorporated in the project.

"We know that sometimes work can contribute to people becoming unwell, but we are now looking at how it can help individuals' resilience and help be a part of people's recovery," he says.

Other founding members of the Alliance, established by the National Mental Health Commission, include the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Psychological Society, beyondblue, the Business Council of Australia and Mental Health Council of Australia.