Work and mental health

Good work helps mental health and wellbeing. It can contribute to your daily activity. Your sense of purpose. Your income. And your social connection. But poor working conditions can harm your mental health and wellbeing.

Mentally healthy work and why it matters

Work can come in many different forms. But mentally healthy workplaces generally have a few things in common. They:

  • Protect against risks to mental health. Mentally healthy work prevents harm to your mental health. Among other things, this means fair workloads. Fair work practices. And a safe environment.
  • Promote wellbeing and the positive aspects of work. Mentally healthy work means things such as fairness, inclusion, and employee development. Good culture thrives from good work.
  • Support people with poor mental health. In a mentally healthy workplace, your mental health is prioritised. Awareness, capability, commitment, and meaningful support exist. To help workers feel better, earlier.

Key facts – mental health at work

In Australia, there have been significant improvements to become more mentally healthy at work, but there is more work to do.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 people experience poor mental health each year. Nearly half of us will experience poor mental health during our lives.
  • Many people spend a third of their lives at work.
  • Poor mental health costs the Australian economy from $12.2 to 22.5 billion each year (according to the Australian Government Productivity Commission).
  • Work is a key setting to improve and support mental health.

Benefits of mentally healthy work

Mentally healthy work is good for everyone. For workers, it:

  • helps you feel more engaged
  • helps you be more productive
  • helps to contribute to your sense of wellbeing (which extends to life outside the workplace).


For businesses, mentally healthy work:

  • improves productivity
  • improves commercial outcomes
  • helps attract and retain staff.

Research has shown that investment in mental health has a positive return on investment. This can range from an average of $2.30 upwards for each dollar invested.

Learn more about this research on the Mentally Healthy Workplaces website

I suddenly needed to take my career more seriously. I needed to act and sound more professional, and less like the goofball I usually took a lot of energy out of me trying to be someone I wasn’t, and this hurt my wife. I was not the man she fell in love with.

Read Craig's mental health journey

What influences mental health at work

A range of work factors can influence your mental health. These include:

  • clarity on what you’re doing
  • the effort required (job demands)
  • fair treatment
  • good support
  • how work is recognised and rewarded
  • your environment
  • your relationships and dealings with people (including clients or the public)
  • having the training, skills and tools to perform your work
  • communication and change at work
  • exposure to traumatic events or information.

In Australia, workplaces need to manage factors at work which can harm mental health.

Learn more about what influences your mental health at work on the SafeWork Australia website

At work, our mental health can also be impacted by non-work factors, such as money, relationships, personality, life experiences and other life events.

Learn about financial wellbeing and mental health

Building a mentally healthy workplace

Good work design

‘Work design’ includes your work tasks and activities. The people you interact with. The responsibilities you have. And how all of those things are organised.

Work design can influence how you feel at work. Poor work design can add frustration, stress, or boredom. Good work design can help you feel clear, organised and able to deliver.

Learn more about good work design on the Comcare website

Find examples of work design on the Centre for Transformative Work Design website

Practical tools to improve mental health at work

The National Workplace Initiative helps people navigate the range of tools and resources in Australia for mental health at work.

Explore the tools and resources on the Mentally Healthy Workplaces portal

Learn more about the National Workplace Initiative

The key to change

Three key things that drive mental health at work:

  • commitment from leadership
  • participation for everyone
  • ongoing communication.


Your mental health at work

Much of your work is likely impacted by others. And it can take time to change. There are things you can do straight away to help protect and enhance your mental health and wellbeing.

Practical tools to stay well at work

Developing a workplace wellbeing plan can help you to stay well at work. It will help you identify the things that keep you well, your personal signs, and the coping strategies that work for you.

Download Beyond Blue's workplace wellbeing plan template

Check your mental health

Everyone’s mental health journey is different. We all experience ups and downs, so it’s important to do regular check ins.

We have some simple tools to help you assess your mental health. You can choose the one that’s right for you and get the resources and support you may need.

Check your mental health

Work and stress

Stress at work isn’t always bad. But when there’s too much, or it goes on too long, your mental health can suffer.

Get information and advice on work and stress

Workplace bullying and harassment

Workplace bullying can happen to you in any role or workplace. It can cause significant work-related stress, which can lead to poor mental health.

Learn more about workplace bullying and harassment, and what can be done

Working with poor mental health

Around 1 in 2 people in Australia will struggle with mental ill health during their life. If you’re recovering from or managing a mental health condition, work can play an important role.

Find ways to manage poor mental health at work


Are you under stress and exhausted? Feeling negative about (or less connected to) your work? Performing below your usual levels? There’s a chance you’re experiencing burnout.

Find out what burnout is, what causes it and how you can protect your mental health

Job loss

No matter how it happens, losing your job, losing work or not having enough can cause emotional and financial stress.

Learn how losing work could affect you, and what you can do to cope

Small business owners and sole traders

Working for yourself can be rewarding. But being responsible for a small business can bring its own unique challenges. There are things you can do to look after your mental health and wellbeing.

Learn more about small business owners, sole traders and mental health

Supporting someone at work

If you're concerned about someone at work, talk to them.

When it comes to the actual conversation, there's no one ‘right way’ to express things. What matters is that you’re thoughtful and genuine.

Learn how to talk to someone you’re worried about at work

Learn how to support someone with a mental health condition

Learn more about working with poor mental health

Rights and obligations

In Australia, there are protections and responsibilities relating to mental health in discrimination, privacy, and work health and safety laws.

Work health and safety

Workplace health and safety (WHS) laws require work to be reasonably safe for all. This includes measuring and managing risks to mental health.

Learn more about WHS and mental health on the SafeWork Australia website

You can find links to your local Work Health and Safety Regulator at the bottom of this page.


Disability discrimination laws make it unlawful to discriminate against people with disabilities, including mental health conditions.

Discrimination includes both direct and indirect actions. So not making reasonable adjustments to support your needs can be a type of discrimination.

Find information about the Disability Discrimination Act on the Australian Human Right Commission website

Learn about reasonable adjustments.

The Fair Work Act prohibits an employer from taking action against a worker for discriminatory reasons.

Learn more about protection from discrimination at work on the Fair Work Ombudsman website


Under Australian privacy law, a worker’s personal information is generally protected and can only be shared in certain circumstances. This includes information about your mental health.

Find information about workplace privacy on the Fair Work Ombudsman website