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ACC should be congratulated

www.mentalhealth.org.nz

MEDIA RELEASE


August 8, 2008


ACC should be congratulated

(Upper Hutt, New Zealand) Mentally unhealthy workplaces are costing New Zealand businesses far more than the $250 spent by ACC for staff on its employee wellbeing programme, says the Mental Health Foundation.

According to research by Southern Cross Healthcare, New Zealand businesses spend $1.7 billion on health care, with more than half this figure - $940 million - relating to injury, illnesses, or absence from work.

"In New Zealand's tight labour market, it's clearly common sense to invest in the health and wellbeing of your employees," says Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation.

"Wellbeing programmes can reduce absenteeism, and prevent illness caused by stressful work environments, which increase the chance of a person developing depression or anxiety."

Working Well is a Mental Health Foundation project that helps employers to create and maintain mentally healthy workplaces. Its seminars focus on a range of topics including health and wellbeing, reducing workplace stress, effective communication, and supporting staff.

"Our Working Well programme shows that employers cannot ignore the issue of mental health and stress in the workplace," Clements says. "With regards to the ACC, the question should not be, how much does a staff wellbeing programme cost; but how much will it cost if you don't have one."

The Foundation's national Health Promotion Hui, taking place in Upper Hutt today, aims to change social, economic and physical environments to improve health for all people.

"The ACC, like many employers the Foundation works with, have realised that healthcare schemes which only focus on illness are counter-productive when a broader approach that focuses on health promotion will produce better results.

"They should be congratulated for making the wellbeing of their employees a top priority."

ENDS

Media enquiries and interview bookings:

Paula Taylor

Communications & Marketing Manager

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

021 300 594

SPOKESPERSON INFORMATION

Judi Clements, Chief Executive

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

Judi is an experienced Chief Executive in the NGO sector with a background in law, social policy, housing, local government and management practice in the UK.

From 1991 - 2001, Judi was Chief Executive of Mind (the National Association for Mental Health), the UK's leading Mental Health Charity. Judi led Mind through key developments, including promoting social inclusion through a multifaceted campaign "Respect". She led the approach to quality and monitoring capacity building 212 local Mind providers in 2 countries.

Judi sat on several government advisory groups and in 1999 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for services to mental health and local government.

After working independently and as a Board member of a range of tertiary institutions and national agencies, Judi relocated to New Zealand in 2005, to be Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation. She has a passion for the development of organisations to promote social justice and the elimination of all forms of unfair discrimination.

ENDS

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