Mental illness is a serious and prevalent issue that affects around 45% of Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 at some point in their life. Each year approximately 20% of Australians will experience a mental illness. [1] 

Cultivating positive mental health in the workplace is most successful when there is a coordinated effort between employers, employees, and allied health care professionals. 

As health care professionals, we have a duty to promote and facilitate healthy, safe, and productive workplaces, as well as treat any workers whose mental health suffers due to improper working conditions or an injury at work.

Our extensive network of doctors and health care professionals includes occupational therapists, physiotherapists, rehabilitation counsellors, psychologists, exercise physiologists, and employment consultants. We’ve been working together since 1994 to provide the Northern New South Wales community with world class workplace health and safety services. 

Mental Health in the Workplace

There are a vast array of risk factors that may be present in any given working environment. They typically stem from the interactions between types of work, organisational and managerial structure, skills and abilities of workers, and support and resources available for employees to carry out their job. Some of the most common mental health hazards include: 

  • Insufficient health and safety policies and procedures
  • Bullying and/or harassment
  • Unsatisfactory communication and management practices
  • Inability to participate in decision making
  • Limited control over one’s tasks/workspace
  • Poor team cohesion
  • Inadequate support for employees
  • Unclear or unorganized tasks and objectives
  • Inflexible working hours and fixed postures

If someone is in a role not suited for their abilities, whether it’s too easy, too hard, or just not their area of expertise, it is likely to impact their mental health. Jobs that carry high levels of personal risk, such as first responders, humanitarian workers, construction workers, etc. can lead to mental disorders or harmful use of alcohol and other substances.

Mental Health Risk Assessment

The  best way to encourage positive mental health is by being proactive. A mental health risk assessment is typically made up of four steps:

  • Identify the risk factors in the workplace that are likely to cause stress, frustration, anxiety, and other negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Assess each factor to prioritize and determine which ones require controls
  • Control the risks by eliminating them or minimising their potential to harm
  • Review the controls and their effectiveness.

Rehabilitation Counselling/Adjustment to Injury Counselling 

An employee that suffers an injury at work may experience pain, decreased strength and flexibility, higher reliance on medication, and decreased physical activity. This can lead to negative psychological damage or trauma including negative beliefs and thoughts, anxiety, anger, and social isolation. Their roles at work, in the home, and within their community could change, leading to even more mental health issues.

Our rehabilitation counselling services are designed to help people who are suffering accomplish their daily goals, maintain a healthy and positive mindset throughout their recovery, and eventually achieve independence and satisfaction in their home, work and community.

If you have any questions, would like to join our network, or talk about ways we can improve our community, feel free to contact us any time!

[1] 4326.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results 2007.