Mental health is a significant issue across society and within every workplace. According to health authorities, almost half of all Australian adults will experience mental illness at some point in their life while a record number of New Zealanders are accessing specialist mental health and addiction services.

Mental health conditions are common and don't discriminate - even the most resilient person can be affected by stress related to their work and life challenges.

At Ventia, we have significantly increased our commitment to promoting mental wellbeing in our organisation over the past year. A key element of this was the launch of our mental health plan, Healthy Minds.

Healthy Minds helps us to deliver on our commitment to raise awareness, reduce stigma and support those with mental health conditions.

Supporting our workers through mental health conditions is not only the right thing to do, it helps individuals build self-esteem and coping skills, it creates a more productive workforce and it enables us to retain our skilled and experienced employees.

John Bennett's journey

John Bennett is a General Manager in our Telecommunications business. From personal experience, he understands how important it is to raise awareness and to work in a supportive and safe environment where individuals can talk about their mental health.

"I have a diagnosed mental health condition that for much of my adult life I chose to ignore, left unchecked and untreated, primarily due to my inability to find the courage to ask for help," John says.

"It wasn't so much a conscious decision, more one borne of the circumstance created by the embarrassment, fear and shame of acknowledging that I needed help. That inability to find a way to seek the help I desperately needed almost ended in a situation where I may not have been here to share my story."

John's experience has and continues to shape the person he is today, as well as his outlook on life.

He is a passionate advocate of the importance of taking care of ourselves. He says, "We need to focus on ourselves first and foremost and I urge all of you to do one simple thing and that's to take a moment to assess how YOU really are."

John also believes taking the time to care for each other's wellbeing is fundamental to our ability as a society to properly function not only in times of extreme challenge created by global pandemics but also when there is a return to normality. He says, "As human beings, it's incumbent upon all of us to not only look after ourselves but also each other. Now more than ever we need to remove the mask and open up to each other in order that we can remain intact during the ever-increasing levels of challenge the world is facing."