Authors: Maggie Toko, Alison Cooper and Heather Geerts, VIC
Event: 2008 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Participating in Employment, EMPLOYMENT,INNOVATIONS
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Definition of Advanced Directives
Advanced Directives are well known in some countries as a legally binding document that defines a person wishes about how, what and when they wish to be treated should they experience elements of mental illness. These documents are developed by the person with a mental illness in conjunction with their family, treating team and any other appropriate people. Our organisation employs people with mental illness and encourages them to complete an Advanced Directive to be used at work. The Mental Health Legal Centre is advocating for legislative change to allow Advanced Directives to be legally binding documents. Regardless of the outcome, we propose that in an effort to engage with and support the mental health of their workforce, employers can educate their workforce about the benefits of using Advanced Directives and encourage staff to consider implementing this tool. This choice, of course, should always remain with the employee. The direct results of using Advanced Directives in the workplace will be that the employee would feel supported by an informed employer. Employers would feel confident that they had information to assist their staff and reduce absenteeism. We are offering workshops to employers through local business networks and are developing a model which will be able to be applied across other business networks, peak bodies, employer organisations and trade unions. The choice of using an Advanced Directive or not will remain in the hands of the employee. Our workshop will explore the value of Advanced Directives in the workforce and the opportunity for further education of employers in issues relating to Mental Health. Employment participation rates in Australia equal 65.2%. Unemployment rates at January 2008 were 4.3%. The Mental Health Council of Australia fact sheet states that a 2006 report for the Victorian Government estimated that mental illness led to about 4.7 million absentee days a year – equating to $660 million yearly loss to the economy.