The six key domains 

The workplace can be enhanced by minimising the impact of known workplace risk factors and maximising the impact of potential protective factors. Using the best available evidence, Black Dog’s workplace mental health research team concluded there are six key domains workplaces need to address to maximise mental health. 

Strategies that address each domain will vary depending on the type and size of the workplace, and will include training, mental health literacy, HR practices, policy implementation, social connectivity and information dissemination. 

The key domains are identified were:

Job/work design: You need to create clarity and sustainability in the roles you design, as well as enhancing flexibility and ensuring employees have appropriate levels of control to meet the demands of their role. 

Promotion of protective factors: Enhance organisational justice, implement anti-bullying policies and effective change management. And make sure managers receive adequate leadership training. 

Early intervention: Promote and facilitate ways for staff to seek help early. Implement mental health policies, employee assistance programs and peer support schemes. 

Support for recovery from illness: This includes supervisor support and training, return to work programs and access to reasonable adjustments, such as flexible working arrangements.

Building resilience: Provide stress management and resilience training, coaching, mentoring and worksite physical activity programs. Also, encourage self-care. This is important now more so than ever.

Increases awareness: Provide mental health literacy training and specific training to managers, and actively engage in awareness programs, such as RU OK Day and World Mental Health Day. 

Five evidence-based ways to wellbeing 

In 2008, the UK Government commissioned the New Economics Foundation to develop a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal wellbeing. The concept of wellbeing comprised two elements: feeling good and functioning well. 

Connect: Provide opportunities for employees to socialise and get to know each other. 

Be active: Provide opportunities for regular physical activity and group activities to help people connect.

Take notice: Promote self-awareness and being in the present. Provide access to guided mindfulness. 

Keep learning: Learning enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction. Provide learning and development opportunities, both professional programs and those that come from more casual social interactions. 

Give: Research shows that kindness and “giving” is associated with increased wellbeing. Provide opportunities for staff to contribute to a worthy cause. 

Direct staff input 

Employee engagement surveys measure and assess how engaged and motivated your employees are and provide insight into their thoughts and attitudes toward their workplace. Implementing strategies that respond to peoples’ troubles and promote what people want addresses the unique and specific nature of your workplace. It’s a critical way of shaping a positive workplace culture. 

Recognising that people are our most precious asset, the Black Dog framework puts them at the centre of the workplace and requires strategies that address the key domains and the ways wellbeing can be implemented at an individual, team and organisational level. 

If you do this, you will have highly functioning, engaged, employees who really enjoy coming to work. You will also have a highly functioning organisation and a mentally healthy workplace culture.