Mental health training

Courses to help bus industry managers assist staff struggling with mental health are up for grabs

Bus operators are being encouraged to take part in a government subsidised training program to educate managers on mental health issues, in conjunction with Beyondblue.

Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) executive director Michael Apps says employers would be well-advised to book a training session for their managers at the reduced cost.

"BIC has agreed to support this initiative. We see it as part of our broader commitment to and focus on the health and wellbeing of our members and their employees," he says.

"This is something that we have been talking about and presenting at industry events for the last 12 months."

Employers who don’t make an effort to train their managers on how to assist staff who may be struggling with mental health issues are mistaken if they think being able to handle such situations is not a necessary skill for their supervisors to have.

"It’s much more common than people think and the effect it has on every business, if not handled or managed properly, can be devastating," Apps says.

"If managers are trained on how to communicate with their staff on this – that can make all the difference."

The Interact Group managing director Nikki Brouwers whose company specialises in delivering workplace health and well-being programs, says training staff in this area is key.

"My extensive work within the bus industry has assisted me to understand the key issues affecting health and well-being for bus operators," she says.

"An understanding and demystifying of depression and anxiety is an important way to build the skills and knowledge of bus operators.

"We know that anxiety and depression is prevalent in our workplaces however the skills and confidence to address these issues differs across organisations and we need to build competence in this area."

Australia Public Transport Industrial Association (APTIA) National industrial relations manager Ian MacDonald agrees operators should take up the offer prior to the impending June 30 cut-off date.

 "BIC and APTIA have over the last two years been involved in providing initiatives to improve the health and well-being of its members' workforce," he says.

"BIC's decision to further participate in the Heads Up program involving Beyond Blue is an extension of that commitment."

Beyondblue chief executive Georgie Harman says educating employees about mental health conditions and how to respond to them made workplaces more mentally healthy and brought an enormous range of benefits.

 "Investing in mental health is a win-win for both employees and employers, and workplace mental health training is one of the easiest things an employer can do to assist their staff," he says.

The Commonwealth Department of Health subsidy expires on June 30 and applies to all not-for-profit organisations, as well as small businesses.

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