Our research

Discover how mentally healthy workplaces in NSW are, and the changes achieved as part of the 2022 NSW Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy. 

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Measuring mental health at work

In 2017 we started measuring how mentally healthy NSW businesses were to set a benchmark for our state. We did this by working with academics and experts to develop the NSW mentally healthy workplaces benchmarking tool. 

This tool measures the attributes of a mentally healthy workplace across five different levels of maturity and allows workers and leaders to identify which level they sit at. The tool can also be used to track progress over time and chart how businesses compare against others across the state.

In 2020 and 2022, we used the tool to survey businesses again. The results show, as a state, we have made positive progress across several indicators, but there is still more work to be done. 

More workplaces are mentally healthy

In 2017 there were 67,542 NSW businesses taking effective action to create a mentally healthy workplace.

In 2022, this increased to 92,933, exceeding our target of 90,000. 

92,933 NSW businesses taking effective action to create mentally healthy workplaces

This represents a 37.6% increase in the number of businesses taking effective action on mental health between 2017 and 2022. That's over a quarter of businesses in NSW now proactively preventing risks to mental health in the workplace.

37.6 percent increase in NSW workplaces taking effective action on mental health
26 percent pie chart -  26 percent of NSW businesses proactively preventing risks to mental health in the workplace

Improvements in focus areas

Between 2017 and 2022, regional and small businesses became mentally healthier. 

Our four targeted industry sectors also improved:

  • transport, postal and warehousing
  • information media and telecommunications
  • manufacturing and; 
  • professional, scientific and technical services. 

Overall, the areas where NSW employers made the biggest improvements were:

  • evaluating and improving the quality of the support services they offer 
  • linking support services to their work health and safety KPIs, and 
  • monitoring whether employees are using work health and safety support services. 

How we've supported NSW business 

Under the Strategy the 2022, NSW Government raised awareness of mental health at work and helped employers and employees make lasting change.

We provided free workplace mental health coaching to more than 1000 micro to medium sized businesses and free workplace mental health training to more than 26,000 people. 

We launched the Code of Practice for Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work to show businesses how to comply with Work Health Safety (WHS) legislation.

We developed the Workplace Wellbeing Assessment so businesses can measure how mentally healthy their workplace is and get actions to improve.

More detail is available in the independent evaluation of our 2022 Strategy.

What's next

While we've made important gains, more than 70% of NSW businesses are yet to take effective action on mental health. Only a third of workers who have been mentally unwell at work feel adequately supported by their employer.

Our next mentally healthy workplaces strategy will detail how we plan to change this. The strategy will be released in 2024 and will be informed by independent reviews, evaluation, benchmarking data, new evidence and stakeholder consultation.

Research papers

NSW benchmarking 

The NSW benchmarking tool has been used to survey and benchmark the state in 2017, 2020 and 2022.

Read the current report:

MHW benchmarking tool report

woman working from home on her laptop and collage of people working in different industries

Download (PDF 1.29MB)

Strategy evaluation 

Independent reviews have evaluated the strategy's success at its mid-point and will again at the end date.

Final review of the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy

Cover page for the final evaluation of the mentally healthy workplaces strategy through to 2022. A collage of diverse workers in various settings such as a young female worker on a farm, a male worker on a manufacturing line, and a lady working from home on a laptop

Download (PDF 2.18MB)

Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy mid-point evaluation

Front cover of the mentally healthy workplaces strategy mid-point evaluation report

Download (PDF 1.82MB)

A review of the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy

Image of the front cover for the Mental health at work review document

Download (PDF 1.26MB)

A framework to evaluate the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy

Image of the front cover of the MHW strategy evaluation framework

Download (PDF 1.83MB)

Literature and evidence reviews 

In 2020 SafeWork NSW commissioned the University of Sydney to update its 2017 literature review of research to understand the key risks and interventions of workplace mental new health, with new evidence.

The psychosocial risks and interventions for mental ill-health in the workplace report (PDF 2.28MB) outlines what was done.

Previous literature and evidence reviews

Review of evidence of psychosocial risks for mental health 2017 (PDF 2.21MB)

Review of interventions to reduce mental ill-health in the workplace 2017 (PDF 2.27MB)

Key issues from review of risks for workplace mental ill-health 2017 (PDF 2.11MB)

Return on investment study

A 2017 report that uses real-world data to look at the cost of workplace mental health interventions to show the potential impacts to business bottom line.

Mentally healthy workplaces return on investment study 2017 (PDF 1.4MB)

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