October 08, 2014

Leadership critical to driving positive workplace culture and mental health conversation

A cross section of nearly 50 of Western Australia’s top business and Government leaders met for Youth Focus’ annual Mental Health Week breakfast at the University Club yesterday.
Keynote speaker Alan Cransberg, Chairman and Managing Director of Alcoa of Australia, said he was passionate about playing a personal role in community wellbeing.
"I personally believe no-one’s life is left untouched by mental illness in one form or another," Mr Cransberg said. "I also want to live in a society where people are conscious of the business benefits but their main driver is a personal value of wanting to positively influence those around them."
Mr Cransberg said there was no ‘right way’ to create a mentally healthy workplace but that it was certainly the right thing to do. "I dearly hope the primary driver is a human value of wanting people to be happy and the best they can be rather than the business drivers," he said.
Mr Cransberg also highlighted his pride in supporting Youth Focus through funding that in the past has enabled face-to-face counselling in the Peel region, and in the future will facilitate Year 9 mental health literacy and awareness campaigns at Pinjarra Senior High School and Waroona District High School, alongside training for Alcoa staff and a Community Forum to be held in 2015.
He urged business leaders to play a critical and leading role by positively influencing workplace culture, management practices and employee experience.
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton congratulated Youth Focus for its role in making a difference in supporting vulnerable young people in WA, especially in Perth, the South-West and Geraldton.
Ms Morton said the State Government was committed to working with organisations like Youth Focus to decrease the impact and incidence of mental illness, self-harm and suicide among young adults and said the Mental Health Commission’s funding for Youth Focus would assist with that.
Youth Focus CEO Jenny Allen said the breakfast, now in its fourth year, was a key event both on the Mental Health Week calendar and for Youth Focus.
"While we are working with young people at the coalface, it is important that we continue to engage with top-level business leaders to help drive a continued conversation on youth mental health," Ms Allen said.
Youth Focus is an independent WA-based not for profit working to stop youth suicide. Youth Focus supports young Western Australians and their families by offering a range of free and unlimited expert mental health services to help them overcome the issues associated with suicide, depression, anxiety and self-harm. Youth Focus counsellors help young people build resilience and empower them with the tools to navigate periods of mental health issues now and in the future.
To find out more visit www.youthfocus.com.au or www.facebook.com/youthfocuswa
Media contacts
Athanae Lucev – 0439 962 284 or athanae.lucev@youthfocus.com.au
Jane McGuire - 9316 5102 or jane.mcguire@alcoa.com.au