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Working together: promoting mental health and wellbeing at work


This guide, Working Together: Promoting mental health and wellbeing at work, is a key initiative of As One—APS Disability Employment Strategy. The guide aims to empower managers and employees to work together to build inclusive workplace cultures and effective systems for promoting mental health in the Australian Public Service (APS).

We will all be touched by mental ill health at some stage in our lives and some of us live with a mental health condition. Leaders and managers must build their levels of confidence around mental health issues to better include people with mental ill health in our teams, and to enable appropriate support of employees during illness and recovery.

The guidance in Working Together is of two types—technical (improved processes and procedures, including early intervention) and cultural (attitudinal and behavioural changes, such as understanding and connecting with each other). The former we can implement relatively quickly, but the latter may take time. The success of the guide relies on its adoption. This will require perseverance, courage, commitment and leadership.

Healthy workplaces deliver greater productivity, improve workforce participation and increase social inclusion. It's important to get this right because the consequences of ill health on individuals, their families, communities and the economy are profound.

We are excited that this guide can help us to do more for mental health and wellbeing at work. In its development, we have consulted with experts including employees with lived experience of mental ill health, the National Mental Health Commission, beyondblue, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Diversity Council and our colleagues across the APS. We wish to thank the great number of people who contributed, particularly Dr Peter Cotton and Dr Mark Creamer for their expertise.

We are determined to promote a quality of working life that is good for everyone's mental health and to do what we can to support people with mental health conditions to fulfil their potential at work.

Stephen Sedgwick AO, Australian Public Service Commissioner and Paul O'Connor, CEO Comcare

'Please don't put the label 'ill' on me for the rest of my life. My attitude is that I'm living and functioning with a health condition, just like many others. It is this attitude that helps me be a higher achiever and maintain my dignity and self-respect in the face of stigma.'
An APS employee

Information sheets

Getting the facts rightUnderstanding my role as a managerTalking about mental healthCreating a respectful workplacePreventing bullying at workSupporting and managing performanceManaging employees throughout their careerManaging risksBalancing demands and controlManaging changeRole clarity for good metal healthRecognising and respondingRecognising when help is neededLooking after yourself and carersBuilding resilienceFocusing on ability to workWorkers' compensation claimsSupporting retutn to work

Contact and acknowledgement information

Enquiries and suggestions about this guide are welcome, and should be directed to:

Employment Policy and Participation Group, Australian Public Service Commission:

Email correspondence should be directed to diversity [at] apsc.gov.au.

Production team (in alphabetical order):

Christina Bolger (Comcare), Dr Peter Cotton (consultant), Dr Mark Creamer (consultant), Caroline Davidson (Australian Public Service Commission), Catherine Meatheringham (Comcare), John Norton (Australian Public Service Commission), Lucy Poole (Australian Public Service Commission), Peter Pullicino (Australian Public Service Commission).

APS Mental Health Expert Reference Group members:

  • Australian Public Service Commission - Tony Cotton
  • Comcare - Christina Bolger and Catherine Meatheringham
  • Department of Defence - Bev Tyler and Anne Morris
  • Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - Alison Sewell
  • Department of Health and Ageing - Melinda Bromley and Adam Davey
  • Fair Work Ombudsman - Su Kearns and Melanie Rhodes
  • Safe Work Australia - Janice Batt and Peta Miller.

The guide also includes contributions and input from public servants with lived experience of mental health conditions, the Australian Public Service Commission's Ethics Group, beyondblue, the National Mental Health Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

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Last reviewed: 
9 December 2020