Mental Health and Wellbeing

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes mental health as a state of wellbeing in which you realise your own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively, and are able to make a contribution to your community.

Your mental health and wellbeing are fundamental to your ability to interact with others, earn a living and enjoy life. It is therefore important that everyone has access to information, support and services to maintain good mental health.

Click on the relevant item in this list to find out about:

Staying mentally well

There are many things you can do to help maintain and improve your mental health. They include:

Connecting with others
Having good relationships and social connections is one of the most important aspects of life. This is an important factor contributing to a sense of wellbeing. These relationships can include family, friends, workmates and others in the community. Investing time and energy into relationships can lead to benefits for all and provide support in difficult times.

Exercise and stay physically healthy
Exercise has been shown to increase wellbeing as well as reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Good physical health is related to better mental health so a healthy diet, avoiding excess alcohol or drugs, making sure you’re getting good sleep, and regular check-ups with your doctor can all help.

Set yourself goals and set out to achieve them
Having goals and ambition in life also helps us to have a sense of accomplishment and wellbeing. Setting realistic goals that can be met and putting in effort to achieve those can bring a sense of satisfaction, pride and fulfilment.

Reach out and lend a hand
Making a contribution to the community can increase social wellbeing. Many people feel a sense of satisfaction through contributing, helping a friend, colleague or neighbour or performing small acts of kindness.

You can find other tips for improving and maintaining your mental health and wellbeing at:


Risks to mental health and wellbeing

Multiple social, psychological, and biological factors determine the level of a person’s mental health  at any point in time. Poor mental health can be caused by:

  • rapid social change
  • stressful work conditions
  • discrimination
  • social exclusion
  • unhealthy lifestyle and physical ill-health
  • risks of violence

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How do I know if I should seek help?

It's estimated that 45% of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime; the most common being anxiety and depression. Although mental health issues can be as debilitating as a serious physical illness, less than half of the people experiencing these conditions seek help.

If you are experiencing difficulties, or you are concerned about a colleague, friend or family member, the best thing to do is to access information and/or support as soon as possible. The sooner you address an issue, the less likely it is that it will escalate into something more serious.

Maybe you’re just going through a bit of a rough patch or trying to deal with stress, illness or a change in your work or personal circumstances? If so, consider speaking to someone about how you’re coping. Accessing a service such as EAP or Next Step could help you make sure you’re managing OK and suggest strategies you can implement to get you through.

Feeling down, tense, angry, anxious or moody are all normal emotions. If these feelings persist, or begin to interfere with daily life, things can become a bit of a struggle. This can affect your ability to function in everyday activities and maintain healthy relationships; whether at work, or with friends and family. In times like these when you find yourself struggling a bit, seeking information and/or support can really help.

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Working with/managing colleagues who may experience mental ill health

Given how common mental ill health is in Australia, it’s likely that at some stage you will work with someone who is at risk of experiencing mental ill health; is experiencing mental ill health; or has experienced mental ill health and has strategies in place to manage this effectively. Healthy workplaces can provide a protective environment and can help to support those experiencing mental ill health to recover and continue to provide a valuable contribution in their workplace.

For managers it is also important that times of increased work pressure and/or organisational change are managed well so that workers are able to cope with these situations.

There is a wealth of high quality information available for managers and all employees about how the workplace can impact, both positively and negatively, on mental health and how to help a colleague who you are concerned about. Below is a list of some of these resources, and you can also speak with your directorate’s Human Resources/Corporate area to seek advice.

Each of the Employee Assistance Programs offer a Hotline for managers and supervisors to assist them in dealing with employee related difficulties and critical incidents. Contact details for each of the providers can be found here.

Working together: promoting mental health and wellbeing at work

Produced by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) in consultation with experts in mental health and organisation psychology, this is a practical guide for workplaces. On the web page you will find a set of associated ‘Information sheets’ that provide very practical advice on people management; prevention of mental ill health; recognising early warning signs and providing support; and assisting with rehabilitation and return to work.

beyondblue  offer a range of resources, including:

Having a conversation: discussing mental health in the workplace - A practical, interactive and very valuable resource to provide tips on having a conversation with a colleague that you think might be struggling.

Managing Mental Health Risks at Work - assists managers address a common workplace scenario. Using a ‘choose a pathway’ approach, managers are prompted to help an employee dealing with a mental health condition to the benefit of the employee and the business

Mental Health Toolbox Talks are designed to equip anyone managing staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver mental health toolbox talks to their team.

SuperFriend – Peer Support Booklet

The SuperFriend Peer Support booklet provides practical suggestions for listening to and supporting work colleagues who may be experiencing mental health challenges.

SuperFriend is a national mental health foundation focused on creating positive, healthy and safe working environments where every employee can be well and thrive.

For more information visit:

Heads Up - resources for employees and managers

Heads Up was developed by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and beyondblue. The website provides a wide range of resources, information and advice for workers and manager – all of which are designed to offer simple, practical and achievable guidance. Take some time to look over the website at the variety of resources it offers.

Workers with Mental Illness: a Practical Guide for Managers

This guide, developed by the Human Rights Commission, provides information for managers or employers to manage WHS issues, treat all employees fairly and ensure safer and more productive workplaces.

Inappropriate Corporation

Join comedian Dave O’Neill and the Inappropriate Corporation team as they learn from leading organisational psychologist Dr Peter Cotton to navigate common issues such as work overload, change management, bullying and incivility.


Where to go if I want to speak to someone

If the situation is urgent or you, or someone you know, is in crisis contact one of the following ASAP:

If you are concerned that you may be experiencing mental ill health, your General Practitioner can provide advice and, if necessary, can develop a mental health care plan for you. Some other options for seeking assistance if you feel you are struggling, two of which are listed below.

Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free, professional and confidential service paid for by your employer and accessible to you and your immediate family members. ACT Government offer a choice of four EAP providers. For more information and to find out about EAP Providers you can contact, visit EAP page by clicking on the heading above.

Next Step – Capital Health Network

Next Step is a free and confidential support service to help people tackle day to day pressures. The service is delivered by the Capital Health Network and provides a range of evidence-based  services to people over 18 years of age who reside, work, or study in the ACT and are not accessing other mental health services

The service can be used as an alternative to EAP for those people looking for something different or who have used up their EAP sessions, and can also be recommended to friends and others in the ACT community who are not eligible to access EAP.

The service consists of low intensity interventions for people with mild to moderate concerns, and high intensity interventions for people with moderate to severe presentations.

The low intensity service is provided by mental health coaches (not psychologists) and a GP referral is not required. It aim is to assist people who may not otherwise access services due to cost or other barriers. A GP referral is required to access the high intensity interventions.

To access Next Step phone: (02) 6287 8066


Where can I access online tools or more information?


beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related substance misuse disorders in Australia. beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.


moodgym is an online cognitive behaviour therapy program for depression and anxiety, developed by ANU. It is like an interactive self-help book which helps you to learn and practice skills which can help to prevent and manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.


A personalised self help program you can use on your computer, phone or tablet

E couch

e-couch provides information about emotional problems - what causes them, how to prevent them and how to treat them. It includes exercises to help you understand yourself and others better. Even better, it provides you with a set of strategies that might help you to improve your life.

SANE Australia

SANE Australia is a national charity helping all Australians affected by mental illness to improve their lives and reduce the risk of suicide.

High Res

High Res is a website developed by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs designed to help you build resilience and manage stress. The tools provide a range of effective techniques that you can use to deal with stress and improve overall resilience.

Black Dog Institute

Black Dog Institute is a research institute that aims to reduce the incidence of mental illness and the stigma around it, to actively reduce suicide rates and empower everyone to live the most mentally healthy lives possible.

TED Talks

  • The Case for Emotional Hygiene (17 min) In this TED Talk Psychologist and Author, Guy Winch, asks us to take our emotional health as seriously as we take our physical health, and explores how to heal from common heartaches.
  • How to make stress your friend (14 min) Listen to Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. She urges us to see stress as a positive and take advantage of an unsung mechanism for stress reduction.
  • The new era of positive psychology (23 min) Martin Seligman, previous President of the American Psychological Association and the founder of positive psychology. Learn about the power of positive psychology and how it works.
  • The Happy Secret to Better Work (12 min) Presented by Shawn Achor, positive psychologist and CEO of Good Think Inc. In this fast and funny talk Shawn argues that happiness inspires us to be more productive.
  • Super Better (20 min) Jane McGonigal is a world-renowned electronic reality games designer. Hear Jane talk about Super Better, a game developed in collaboration with scientists, doctors and researchers that builds your real-life resilience and improves your health and wellbeing.