Focusing on mental health

Wayne Schwass was the keynote speaker at the Cardinia Business Breakfast. 286677_03 Photos: GARY SISSONS

By Shelby Brooks

Mental health advocate and 1996 premiership player Wayne Schwass has brought his fight for mental health awareness to the Cardinia business community.

Having made his name in the white and blue stripes of North Melbourne as a blistering and courageous wingman, Wayne was the keynote speaker at the second Cardinia Business Networking Breakfast of the year.

Taking place on Wednesday 22 June at the Cardinia Cultural Centre, the breakfast focused on the importance of individual’s mental health and emotional well-being, and how that can affect your business and employees.

Wayne encouraged attendees to place value in looking after their mental health long before they might have identified a problem.

“We need our physical health to do all the things we want to do as individuals, so we understand we need to invest in that,” he said.

“By investing in physical health, there are three things that we want to stop: illness, breakdown and premature death.

“But do you invest into your mental health, like you do your physical health?”

Wayne spoke about the barriers of embarrassment, gender conditioning, time, cost and resources that prevent people from seeking help.

Wayne said sleep, exercise, diet, support networks and doing something that brings one joy could help people in improving their mental wellbeing.

By doing so, people can then create a safe place for employees to bring up their mental health struggles, Wayne said.

“There is not a single business in this country which doesn’t have employees who are under stress or potentially dealing with mental health conditions,” he said.

“Our greatest assets are not the things we sell, the building we own or the services that we deliver. Our greatest assets are the people that work for us.

“Healthy and happy people are better employees.”

Wayne believes having employees with a positive mental health makes the business more productive, profitable and efficient.

“Businesses that recognise this will see a direct positive impact across their bottom line as well as increasing their ability to recruit new people and increase their ability to retain good people,” he said.

“Over the long term, by creating a really positive and inclusive work environment, they become an employer of choice.

“Every industry is struggling to recruit people at the moment, so investing into the wellbeing of your people gives you the biggest chance of keeping your people as well recruiting other good people.”

Also in attendance at the breakfast was a range of business mental health specialists who were available to speak directly with business owners about their specific needs to create and maintain a happy and productive workplace.