Insights – 5 min read

Changing Mindset Changes Outcomes

August 31, 2023
By Dr. Mark Whittington and Gaby Bush

Going beyond the duty of care to nurture stronger, more resilient, more productive teams.

Mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces $10.9 Billion a year.

BeyondBlue/PwC Report has shown that untreated mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces $4.7 billion in absenteeism, $6.1 billion in presenteeism, and $146 million in compensation claims. What’s more, recent research assessments, utilising a human capital approach, estimate the global economic burden of mental illness is skyrocketing from US$2.5 trillion in 2010 to US$6.1 trillion in 2030. Most of this burden was due to lost productivity, defined as absenteeism and presenteeism. In addition to these dire statistics, the Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that Australian workers report the highest burnout rates in the world. Furthermore, appearing before a parliamentary committee The Australian Medical Association has warned that our mental health services have been overwhelmed. Mental health admissions are the fastest growing hospital admission increasing at an average rate of 4.8% each year. Aftershocks of the Covid 19 pandemic continue to reverberate. Periods of lockdown further blurred the boundaries between work and home. We are now facing a perfect storm of unprecedented proportions and the consequences for Australian employers are grave.

“Embracing mental health at work is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic investment.”

Dr Mark Whittington

Consulting Psychiatrist

When questioned about the challenges facing Australian employers Dr Mark Whittington had this to say:

“It all boils down to united we stand divided we fall. Healthy reciprocal relationships are the critical key, not just to productivity at work, but to our health and happiness as individuals. I believe this to be a categorical imperative of nature. Witness the inspiring example of Belgian draft horses.

The average individual Belgian draft horse can pull, on average, about four thousand pounds. By yoking two of these magnificent animals together you might assume that you could double that amount to eight thousand pounds. You would be wrong. Something miraculous happens. The power of relationships multiplies that amount to sixteen thousand pounds! And it gets even more interesting. If you take two Belgian Horses that live together, know each other, and have lived a couple of years of horse life together, on average, the amount that they can pull together blossoms out to a jaw-dropping thirty-two thousand pounds! The quality and depth of their relationship allow them to go from sixteen thousand to thirty-two thousand pounds! But that’s not all. The world record was set by two brother horses that had spent their whole lives together. They pulled a record of no less than fifty-two thousand pounds! That’s the power of relationships!”

Mentally healthy people build supportive, resilient, productive relationships.

It is better by far to focus on the prevention of mental illness than to face the way more daunting task of putting people back together after they have gone over the metaphorical cliff of stress and burnout. Employers have much to gain by reaching far beyond the bare minimum duty of care to mental health support that creates both purpose and engagement. In light of the dearth of mental health services available from our overburdened system, we need to focus on giving people the tools they need to care for themselves and each other. Like the Belgian Horses, the return on investment in raising morale and esprit de corps while building stronger more resilient teams multiplies many times over.
Metaphorical Therapy’s Corporate Seminars deliver significant tangible benefits:

Improved personal wellbeing.

Improvements in the workplace.

Improvements at home.

By reaching beyond duty of care you can create an environment that encourages employees to thrive and raise morale by being mutually supportive. You can change mindset which is the key to changing everything. Employees who feel supported in their mental well-being are more motivated, engaged, loyal, and productive. What’s more, by prioritising mental health you can attract a diverse and talented pool of candidates while enhancing your reputation as an employer of choice. If you want to reduce absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace while building stronger, more resilient more productive teams email us at

We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback for our seminars and witnessed extremely high emotional engagement.


“In my role as Human Resources Director; I will definitely use this as a tool for conflict management, self-awareness and introflection exercises for both individuals and teams.”

Jackie B, Human Resources Director


“Complex concepts were made so much easier to understand. Feedback from staff was unanimously and overwhelmingly positive. It was interesting. It was even fun at times. What I liked most of all is that it drew us all a little closer together.”

Courtney S, CEO


“Changing behaviours alone doesn’t change results.

Experts have struggled to explain why 70% of organizational change efforts fail. Arbinger studies show that one critical reason is because too often efforts focus on behaviour rather than what drives behaviour: mindset. Once people see others with a new mindset, they willingly change their own behaviour. This change in mindset is the most effective way to achieve desired results.”

The Arbinger Institute


About the author

Dr. Mark Whittington and Gaby Bush

Dr. Mark Whittington is a graduate of the distinguished Otago Medical School, and has more than 30 years’ experience working at the clinical coalface as a Consultant Psychiatrist.

Gaby Bush is a creative director, writer ,ex-patient, corporate refugee, and survivor of severe PTSD. Gaby is living proof of how well the Metaphorical Therapy System works in the real world.

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