MENTAL HEALTH SERIES: 5 Factors That Contribute To Workplace Mental Health (PART 1)

 In Mental Health

This month we’ll be covering a critical issue that is all-consuming and a common challenge in workplaces which is becoming more, and more apparent – mental health

DISCLAIMER: We are sharing common problems our clients experience. BespokeHR are not mental health or medical practitioners and any advice provided in these blogs do not take away the requirement to seek professional advice where required, and advise to seek further assistance via the links to resources at the end of this blog.

According to the National Survey of Mental Health & Wellbeing by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it’s estimated that 45 per cent of Australians had experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime, with 20 per cent experiencing a mental disorder in the previous year. 

Mental Illness contributes to over $11 Billion in loss to Australian businesses each year, through sick days, reduced productivity and work performance and compensation claims, not to mention the utter emotional devastation it can have on the individual experiencing it and their families and workplaces. 

A common query I have been receiving in the last few months is how to deal with mental illness in the workplace. 

Being a sensitive topic and something that should be approached on a case-to-case basis, it is something that is generally misunderstood, and needs to be approached with compassion, understanding, empathy and tact. 

“Paulette, I know John / Susie / Sarah has not been him/herself lately, and to be honest I’m worried.”

“They’ve taken over 2 weeks sick leave in the last 6 weeks, yet they have been secretive in sharing what is actually wrong with them.”

In the next 5 weeks, we’ll cover a range of mental health conditions that are becoming more and more common in the workplace, and provide you a selection of resources, tools and strategies to work on developing a healthy and mental health-friendly workplace. 

The purpose of these blogs will be to give you a background on a range of mental health conditions as well as dispel any myths around particular illnesses, provide you with a checklist of early warning signs to watch out for, and provide you with a comprehensive list of resources you can access to handle any situations that may arise.

This week we’ll cover five contributing factors according to The Black Dog Institute of workplace mental health. You can find a comprehensive fact sheet on this topic here, that covers the factors outlined below. 

1. Demand and control

Jobs that have high emotional and/or cognitive demands have a higher level of sickness and absence due to mental illness. 

This is particularly pervasive in roles that have a high job demand, such as tight deadlines and high workload, and have a low amount of job control, such as decision making power. 

Such jobs include teachers, lawyers, nurses, healthcare workers and industrial workers.

2. Opportunity and security

“Roles involving variety, task identity, significance and appropriate feedback are more likely to be associated with higher levels of workplace wellbeing,” according to The Black Dog Institute. 

“Job insecurity, lack of appropriate resources, lack of learning opportunity and a disproportionate pressure to perform are associated with poor workplace mental health.”

3. Trauma

According to The Black Dog Institute, occupations with regular exposure to traumatic events have an increased risk of mental health problems including depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

“This includes police officers, paramedics, fire fighters, military personnel, medical staff and journalists,” they state. 

“A recent review estimated that 1 in 10 emergency workers currently suffer from symptoms of PTSD.”

It is important to recognise that staff however may not be experiencing traumatic events at work but may be at home which could also trigger symptoms. 

4. Relationships with managers & colleagues

Team relationships, and the focus on relationships placed by leadership, affect individual mental health outcomes. 

“In many occupations, interpersonal relations are the most frequent source of workplace problems and stress, particularly if indicative of workplace bullying,” says The Black Dog Institute.

“Social support in the workplace, as well as perceived support from the organisation as a whole, appears to have a protective effect against mental health difficulties.”

5. Leadership training 

As a business owner, you play a role in the welfare of your staff, including their mental health.

Managers and supervisors also have a significant contribution to this. 

“The actions and opinions of someone in a leadership role can have a potent influence on a staff member at risk of mental illness,” says The Black Dog Institute. 

“Research shows that managers provided with mental health training feel more confident in discussing mental health matters and have staff that display reduced psychological distress. 

Additionally, an inspiring, motivated and caring leadership style has been associated with enhanced mental wellbeing.”

What are you doing in your workplace to promote positive wellbeing, and tackle the above factors? Are your leaders trained in being great leaders? Want a head start – head to www.90dca.com.au or contact us about our more comprehensive leadership training.  

Tune in next week for the remaining 5 factors that contribute to workplace mental health. To find out more about mental health in the workplace, head to The Black Dog Institute

VIDEO CREDIT: The Black Dog Institute – www.blackdoginstitute.com.au

For more information and resources see below:

Lifeline: Ph: 13 11 14 W: www.lifeline.org.au

Beyond Blue: Ph: 1300 22 4636  W: www.beyondblue.org.au

The Black Dog Institute: W: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

Safework SA Mental Health Resources: W: www.safework.sa.gov.au/health-safety/health-wellbeing

Mental Health Emergency Line: Ph. 13 14 65 or in case of an emergency requiring immediate assistance, call 000

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Paulette Kolarz

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