What Is The Impact of Our Mental Health?

In March 2017, the World Health organisation announced that depression is the leading cause of poor health worldwide, with more than 300 million people currently suffering from this condition.

A recent article in Thrive Global noted that mental health issues are affecting millions of Americans and Data shows this problem is on the rise.

More than 8.3 million American adults suffer from serious psychological distress, according to new research from New York University Langone Medical Center. That means a higher percentage of U.S. adults are dealing with this mental health issue now more than ever.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention defines serious psychological distress as a combination of “feelings of sadness, worthlessness and restlessness” profound enough to affect your physical health. Researchers analysed data from more than 200,000 Americans between 18 and 64 years old. They found that 3.4 per cent of participants met the criteria for serious psychological distress — previous estimates were less than 3 per cent, according to the researchers. “Based on our data, we estimate that millions of Americans have a level of emotional functioning that leads to lower quality of life and life expectancy,” lead study investigator Judith Weissman, PhD, JD, and research manager in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone, says in the press release. “Our study may also help explain why the U.S. suicide rate is up to 43,000 people each year.”

In Australia, our statistics are equally alarming:

  • The overall suicide rate in 2015 was 12.6 per 100,000 in Australia. This is the highest rate in 10-plus years.
  • The most recent Australian data (ABS, Causes of Death, 2015) reports deaths due to suicide in 2015 at 3,027.
  • This equates to more than eight deaths by suicide in Australia each day.
  • Deaths by suicide in Australia occur among males at a rate three times greater than that for females. However, during the past decade, there has been an increase in suicide deaths by females.
  • The suicide rate amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is more than double the national rate. In 2015, suicide accounted for 5.2% of all Indigenous deaths compared to 1.8% for non-Indigenous people

·         For every death by suicide, it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt to end their lives. That is approximately 65,300 suicide attempts each year.

Source – Lifeline.

If we want to change these statistics we need to recognise there is no quick fix. As individuals, partners, leaders, teams and organisations, we can play a significant role in the overall reduction of mental health issues. Just consider the opportunities in:

·         Raising awareness and understanding

·         Reducing stigma

·         Increasing support and services within organisations

·         Skilling individuals and leaders to manage better conversations

·         Building a more resilient population

Consider the opportunity for the aggregation of marginal gains. We can all take an active part on building the mental health of both ourselves as individuals, our family and our workplaces.

What one step could you take today to make a difference in someone’s life?

What one step could you take today to make a difference in your own life?

Go on…..Make a mental health promise to yourself.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at or






“Ahhhh so you’re the one with the emotional problems.” This is the statement that someone close to me was greeted with after they were asked to contact their employer’s Case Manager after recently having time off for depression and anxiety.

So how mentally healthy is your workplace? Despite large awareness campaigns, there still appears to be a lack of insight as to how supervisors, managers and staff can support someone returning to work after experiencing anxiety and/or depression.

For many people experiencing anxiety or depression, concerns over colleagues’ reactions or a lack of support can add significantly to existing stress. Being aware of potential barriers and taking steps to reduce these will help both individual employees and the workplace as a whole.

 When you consider that at any given time 1 in 5 employees are likely to be experiencing a mental health condition, this is a statistic that workplaces can no longer simply ignore. Another startling statistic is that untreated depression results in over 6 million working days lost in Australia each year. What could this be costing your organisation?

 The stigma surrounding anxiety and depression is a common barrier to many who need to seek attention or who are struggling to sustain their attendance at work.

 Barriers can include:

·      Fear that colleagues may find out about their diagnosis with possible negative impacts resulting

·      Loss of connection with colleagues

·      Lack of support from employers and managers

·      Uncertainly about the level or type of support available

·      Stigma associated with mental health conditions


There are some practical strategies your organisation can use to address barriers. The support of a manager or supervisor is the most crucial factor for people with a mental health condition remaining at or returning to work.

As a manager or leader you can:

·        provide mental health awareness training

·   speak openly about mental health conditions in the workplace and encourage others to do the same

·        promote a positive working environment by minimising workplace risks to mental health, such as job stress and preventative training such as resilience and stress management.

·        work with the individual about their needs for return to work. Don’t bombard them with questions and paperwork to fill out on their first day back and tell them they are running out of leave. Ask them about how you can support them and consider how you might manage any difficult conversations with empathy and insight.

·        draw on guidance from specialists or the employee's treating health professional (with their permission).


Promoting mental health in the workplace is everyone's responsibility. However small you decide to start, take the first step towards a more mentally healthy workplace today.   

PWC research shows that $2.30 is the average return on investment for every $1 invested in creating a mentally healthy workplace.

What could your organisation be doing to improve the mental health of staff and better assist staff returning to work after periods of time off for depression and anxiety?

For more information, contact Michelle Bakjac at Bakjac Consulting on 0412047590 for assistance with a range of training and consulting services to increase the mental health of your workplace.