Leading the Change for Mentally Healthy Workplaces – with Tanya Heaney-Voogt

Mentally Healthy Workplaces are not about the absence of challenge, accountability, or responsibility in the workplace, far from it.  They are about environments that enable everyone to bring their best selves to work and are therefore the catalyst for collaboration, effectiveness, and productivity. 

Mentally Healthy Workplaces are workplaces that have a strategic commitment to protect, promote and support employee’s psychological wellbeing.  

They are workplaces that assess the risks of work-related stress and work-related psychological hazards, understanding that not to do so will contribute to the significant increases in compensation claims and lost productivity (estimated to cost $11billion) to Australian workplaces each year

But how do organisations make the transition and what does a mentally healthy workplace look like?


The Five Signs of a Mentally Healthy Workplace


The Five Signs model outlines what a mentally healthy workplace looks like in reality. It provides tangible elements that people can use to formulate strategies and aspire to. There is also an integrated training program available that supports the transition to a mentally healthy workplace.

In developing The Five Signs model I have drawn on my own experience leading people, culture and wellbeing teams in the public sector, an extensive literature review of best practice global research, standards, and legislation; and my practical experience implementing programs and services that enhance psychological safety and workplace culture across a range of industries and contexts for my clients. 

This model proposes five critical signs that are evident in a mentally healthy workplace.

This Five Signs of a Mentally Healthy Workplace model provides a future state vision for leaders.  It is aspirational for those commencing on the journey. Inspirational, and ultimately transformational.

The Five Signs of a Mentally Healthy Workplace are:


  1. Environments that are inclusive and where everyone feels values, respected, and accepted.
  2. Environments that fuel the thirst for learning and actively look for opportunities to lift, safely stretch, and develop its people.
  3. Environments that by strategic design actively mitigate risks to psychological harm.
  4. Environments where change is managed in a way that enhances culture, not detracts from it.
  5. Environments where fun and laughter are essential parts of the day.


Under each of the five signs sit a host of activities that ultimately focus on protecting people from psychological harm, promoting a culture and habits that enhance mental wellbeing and supporting those who may experience mental ill health to remain in, or return to, the workplace.

The latter an important inclusion given that prior to COVID 1 in 5 Australians in any 12 month period were experiencing a common mental health condition such as anxiety or depression; and this cohort are at increased risk of experiencing significantly higher levels of anxiety or distress as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.


Mentally healthy workplaces

Taking Action

What steps will you take to move towards a psychologically healthier workplace?  When conducting workshops on mentally healthy workplaces I ask attendees to consider one priority activity they will Start, Stop and Sustain to make them mentally healthier.

Transitioning a workplace is a transformational activity, meaning a long-term project.  Understandably people are impatient and want to see quick runs on the board.  Taking these three quick steps provides transactional activities for focus while the larger more important work takes place.

Getting Help

Tanya provides several support options to help organisations transition to a Mentally Healthy Workplace, including her 12 month workplace based The Five Signs Training Program. 

Reach out for more information on the support available via tanya@tanyaheaneyvoogt.com 

For organisations looking to better understand the role of work related stress on employee psychological wellbeing you can download WorkSafe Victoria’s Preventing and managing work-related stress guide here.


Tanya Heaney-Voogt

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Tanya holds a Masters of Business Administration, Diploma of Workplace and Business Coaching, Diploma of Management and Workforce Planning Qualifications.  She is a Certified Change Practitioner, an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation and a Certified Trainer in Leader Factors 4 Stages of Psychological Safety model. 

Tanya is an experienced mentor and passionate about helping individuals and workplaces to succeed through a priority focus on establishing environments that bring out the best in people and that proactively mitigate risks to psychological harm. 

Tanya is ultimately fascinated by “change” – both on an individual, team and organisational level, and supports teams and workplaces to lead culture transformation and workplace change initiatives. 

Tanya also works as a Research Assistant with Deakin University School of Business on a national leadership wellbeing study.

Learn more about Tanya here. 



If you’re interested in learning more about Startup Gippsland and how we can help you build and scale your business, be sure to take a look at our website. 



 1. Includes absenteeism, presenteeism and compensation claims (headsup.org.au)

 2. Blackdoginstitute.org.au – Mental Health Ramifications of COVID-19 

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