Programs created by Super Friend to cut suicide rates by making workplaces a centre for helping those at risk of mental illness is attracting government interest.

Mental health initiatives typically focus on individual members, but Super Friend’s pilot makes members aware of themselves and their colleagues. It also recognises that being connected to the workplace and community is an effective way of treating people.

Damien Hill, chairman of Super Friend and chief executive of REST, said: “The best way to make those suffering from mental health issues a productive member of the community is to get them back into the workforce. There are various spectrums of mental illness that can play a very valuable role in the workplace.”

Hill said Super Friend was being approached by government bodies wanting to find out more and to use the programs themselves.

This government interest showed how little there was currently in place for mental well-being in the workplace, he said.

Hill was talking in advance of Super Friend’s second annual symposium, which takes places today (October 1).

At the symposium, an independent report on the progress of the pilot programs is being given by Sarah Gruner of KPMG.

Her analysis will explain the return on investment for employers in making their workplaces more productive.

Hill said employer interest in the program was high and that other superannuation funds were interested in joining up.

“We are increasingly getting interest from corporate, public sector and retail funds. It is starting to resonate,” he added. “There is plenty of scope for expansion.”

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