Start Talking

26 Jun 2017

All it takes to make a difference is a conversation.

That was just one of the tips shared by Mental Health Promoter Lisa Ducat at the recent Site Safe Wellington Safety Liaison Group.

Lisa, who works for the Mental Health Foundation, was the guest speaker at the group’s June meeting, where she provided practical advice on creating workplaces that support positive mental wellbeing.

Her advice was based on research done by the Open Minds project, which is specifically designed to equip managers with the tools they need to talk about mental health at work.

Good communication was the first step to opening up about mental health, Lisa said.

“Remember that it is hard for both sides to have these conversations. We need to support managers to have good conversations and we need to start with good engagement and communication.

“It’s actually just a conversation – it doesn’t have to be much more than that to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Lisa said that during her work with construction workers, they told her that deadlines and a failure to complete tasks on time were a major cause of stress, even when this was beyond their control.

One strategy to reduce this anxiety was to find other ways to acknowledge the good work being done, and to improve feedback to workers.

The Open Minds research found many benefits to having a team with strong mental wellbeing, including:

  • Higher productivity
  • Fewer days off work
  • Lower risk of chronic physical disease

Mental wellbeing needed to be incorporated into workplaces in the same way that everyday health and safety measures, such as personal protective equipment, were.

“Ideally, it should be included as part of what you are already doing and as part of your induction process,” Lisa said.

She shared three key tips for creating a workplace that supports good mental health:

  • Champion positive mental health
  • Create psychologically healthy environments
  • Provide good support for staff who are mentally unwell

These strategies should be supported by a three-step process:

1. Talking about mental wellbeing

2. Understanding what is supportive

3. Working together collaboratively with workers to find solutions

For information and free resources that can help you improve mental wellbeing at your workplace, visit

The full presentation can be viewed here.

June is Mens' Health Month, visit the website for more information.