Under the current Work Health and Safety legislation, every organisation has an obligation to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and wellbeing of their workers.
This includes taking steps to:
- Minimise the risk of causing or aggravating mental illness and
- Minimise the risk of someone with a mental illness causing harm to anyone else in your workplace
Statistics indicate that one in five Australian adults will experience a mental illness in any given year.
Approximately 45% of Australians aged between 16 and 85 will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.
WHAT WORKPLACE FACTORS MAY CAUSE OR EXACERBATE MENTAL ILLNESS?
Your workers may be at risk of developing or exacerbating a mental illness if they:
- Are subject to high levels of pressure, e.g. tight deadlines
- Are not involved in decision-making that affects how their work is performed or managed
- Are unclear on their role
- Have no or limited participation in consulting about decisions that affect their work
- Are insecure about their job, e.g. fearful of redundancy
- Have long working hours
- Are subject to poor communication from managers about their work or work processes in general
- Do not have adequate resources to carry out their role
- Are subject to workplace trauma, e.g. witnessing a workplace accident
- Are exposed to bullying
IS YOUR BUSINESS PREPARED TO HANDLE MENTAL ILLNESS ISSUES?
- Are your managers and other workers able to understand and identify the early signs of anxiety and depression?
- Does your workplace have an employee assistance program (EAP)
- Do you implement peer support programs or mentoring to assist in managing mental health issues?
- Does your workplace foster a climate of respect and resilience to support those with mental illness as well as combat workplace bullying e.g. anti-bullying and diversity policies?
- Is the management team ‘emotionally intelligent’ when it comes to the issue of mental illness?
- Do you offer flexible work practices? For example, allowing workers time off to meet other demands in their life that may cause stress, such as caring for children or aged parents
EMPLOYER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (EAP)
An employee assistance program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to enhance the general psychological wellbeing of all workers and their immediate families.
An EAP is generally an avenue for workers to deal with their personal issues and offers a good option for businesses dealing with mental illness issues.
EAPs often include short-term counselling that is provided free to the worker and their family.
For an EAP to be effective, however, you should use a professionally certified provider to counsel your worker. The provider must be independent from your company and maintain confidentiality and privacy over the issues discussed with the worker.
MTA members can assess discounted sessions at Access Programs EAP & Workplace Consulting. They are located at 5 convenient locations: Adelaide, Bedford Park, Elizabeth, Salisbury and Noarlunga.
For further information or assistance contact the WR team on (08) 8291 2000 or via email by clicking here.