The shadow of the black dog
If the federal Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb was 40 again he wouldn’t tell too many people he lived with a mental illness, because he couldn’t take the risk.
Robb was sharing his own experiences with depression at a gathering of workplace mental health stakeholders to launch a new Black Dog Institute workplace initiative last Friday.
He described how he had lived with mental illness for most of his life.
He said stigma was still an issue for the community to deal with, noting there were a lot of put-downs when people got half the chance.
Also, when his illness was diagnosed and he was trialling medications, he found he couldn’t handle the side effects and do his job at the same time, and some people assumed he would retire.
But now that the medication issues have been resolved, Robb says he has never felt better.
He said his boss, the Prime Minster Tony Abbott, treated him like everybody else and delegated work, but pulled him up when he had made mistakes.
Dr Samuel Harvey, Senior Lecturer in Workplace Mental Health at the University of New South Wales and Research Fellow at the Black Dog Institute, also speaking at the launch, said preventative not just reactive mental health measures were necessary at all workplaces.
Harvey said there were no simple answers, and evidence-based solutions that addressed mental health problems at organisation, team and individual levels were necessary.
Importantly, good leadership was key to the success of any mental health initiative, he said.
For more details visit the Black Dog Institute.
Published on 5 June 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.