It’s time to change the way we talk about mental health in the workplace

Published September 1, 2021

Happy pills. Shrinks. Jitters. The blues.

Talking about mental health is hard, and it’s not surprising that many people reach for euphemisms in the hope of making it easier. But did you know that this sort of language can actually lessen people’s willingness to get help, by trivialising the challenges they’re grappling with?

The Charter is a resource that guides the way organisations talk about mental health and suicide prevention. It promotes safe, inclusive language with the aim of reducing workplace stigma and promoting help-seeking behaviour.

While the Charter has been around for some time, the Everymind Institute and suicide prevention organisation Life in Mind have been redeveloping it since 2017. They have worked in consultation with a diverse group of stakeholders, including people with lived experience of mental ill-health, LGBTQI+ groups and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisors, among others. It’s this updated version that our Executive Director Dr Kim Hamrosi, our Chair Steven Worrall and our board member Melinda Upton signed on the call. Alongside Lucy, we were also joined by the Everymind team and our wonderful newest members, who share our mission of creating safer, more inclusive workplaces in their own organisations and, we hope, in the corporate world more broadly.

At CMHAA, we want Australian employees to feel valued and supported, and we know that language is one of the most powerful ways we can do this. Whether employees are thriving, struggling, or recovering, conversations about mental health must become a normal part of our working days, just like conversations about physical health.

That’s why our decision to sign the Charter was a unanimous one, and it’s why we encourage all our member organisations to do the same.