Health Services Program

The mental and physical health of health professionals in Australia is an ongoing concern within the health profession and broader community.

Evidence suggests health professionals are at greater risk of experiencing anxiety, depression and suicide. Risk factors in the workplace include heavy workloads, long working hours, shift work, bullying, harassment, occupational violence, and home–work stress.

The aim of the Health Services Program is to address the prevalence of anxiety, depression and suicide in staff working in health services across Australia.

Poor mental health among health professionals has far-reaching effects. As well as the personal impact for the individual and those close to them, colleagues, patients and health services can also be affected. Promoting good mental health in our health services is strongly in the interests of both the health profession and the broader Australian community.

Diana shares her experience of depression while working long hours as an anaesthetist.

Creating a mentally healthy health service

There are a number of benefits for health services that focus on creating mentally healthy workplaces. Research suggests that:

  • patient experiences are better when staff feel they have a good working environment, low emotional exhaustion, and support from their co-workers and manager.
  • workplaces will, on average, receive a positive return on investment of $2.30 for every $1 spent on creating a mentally healthy workplace.
  • employers who sustain a 'great place to work' attract and keep the best workers.
  • when staff are engaged, they are more willing to extend an extra hand or discretionary effort to assist others. The result is improved performance, productivity and quality.

Discover more about the benefits of creating a mentally healthy workplace in your health service.

There are practical actions every health service can take to create a mentally healthy workplace. Given the unique nature of their work environment, beyondblue has developed a practical, step-by-step guide for health services on how to develop and implement a tailored mental health and wellbeing strategy to support their staff.

The development of this resource has been informed by a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from health services across metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria. beyondblue has also consulted widely with representatives from other health services, unions, professional associations, employer bodies, regulators, government, national industry peak bodies and academics in the area of workplace mental health.

To get started, download the guide below or order it from our catalogue:

Learn more about creating mentally healthy workplaces.

What is your health service doing?

Are you implementing a mental health and wellbeing strategy in your health service? Or perhaps you already have existing programs and initiatives in place. If so, we want to hear from you! Sharing your experiences in creating a mentally healthy workplace may help others with their approach or encourage them to take action.

Email us at workplace@beyondblue.org.au and let us know about your programs, what you've learnt, and any gaps we can help with. We can also help you with workplace training or any specific queries you have about workplace mental health.

Health Services Program history

beyondblue has been working to support doctors' mental health since 2009, primarily through:

  • Research – systematic literature review (2011) and the National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students (2013) [PDF, 156pg, 1.5MB] 
  • Raising awareness –  about the mental health of doctors and medical students at national events and directly to health services
  • Engaging with health services –  continuous, proactive engagement with key industry groups and health services to promote doctors' mental health and wellbeing and understand the key risk factors and barriers to doctors seeking support.

beyondblue’s Health Services Program is a natural evolution of its Doctors' Mental Health Program, recognising that other health professionals and staff working in health services face similar risk factors to medical professionals and also require additional support.

beyondblue's landmark National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students, released in October 2013, identified some of the mental health challenges facing the medical profession.

Download the survey report 

Other research and our engagement with Victorian health services suggests that the stressors created by the organisational culture and workplace conditions within health services are not isolated to the medical profession. Nurses, allied health staff, administrative staff and others working in healthcare are also exposed to similar risk factors and require the same level of support for their mental health at work.

Get support

  • Australasian Doctors' Health Network - contact phone numbers for immediate help and support, for doctors and students, and for families and colleagues of doctors in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Nurse and Midwife Support - 24/7 national support service for nurses and midwives providing access to confidential advice and referral.
  • Pharmacist Support Service - offers support related to the many demands of being a pharmacist in Australia
  • Health and Wellbeing of Junior Doctors - self-assessment tools, information and support for junior doctors.
  • beyondblue Support Service - talk through your concerns with with our Support Service. Our trained mental health professionals will listen, provide information, advice and brief counselling, and point you in the right direction so you can seek further support. 
  • Lifeline - free, confidential, 24-hour telephone and online crisis support service.