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The goal of this blog is to provide useful information on every aspect of workplace health - from wellness and injury prevention through to rehabilitation and recovery at work.

Christmas Time Confessionals

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Inevitably you have read the literature about being careful not to drink too much at Christmas parties and of course how to prevent unruly behaviours as a responsible employer.

It is well documented that managing safety at this time of the year has its challenges, namely with concerns about fatigue escalating. See WorkCover Queensland’s article about tips to manage fatigue during this time of the year here.

Unfortunately one of the areas often overlooked by employers is the prevalence of mental health issues that emerge during the ‘silly season’. In the lead up to Christmas many employees grapple with deadlines and in doing so face the burden of increased workloads, fatigue and the perceived need to cut corners to “get the job done”. 

But at what cost? Fatigue can lead to both physical and mental strain and when these factors are added to the need to be festive and convivial, the result is a dramatic increase in reported mental-health conditions requiring intervention. This year, Actevate has already seen a 35% increase in EAP counselling referrals in the quarter leading up to December.

Actevate is keen to empower employers to help them reduce the prevalence of mental-health issues during the festive season. One of the most challenging areas for employers is managing the heady mix of fun, alcohol and festivities during the ’silly season’. Christmas parties are notorious for inducing unorthodox and uncharacteristic behaviour in “seemingly conventional” employees, but what about those employees that choose to confess to fellow team members whilst “under the influence”.

Actevate recommends that employees who are subjected to concerning confessionals during a Christmas party should take the appropriate action to mitigate the issue. Confessionals might come in the form of suicidal thoughts, potentially harmful coping strategies, domestic violence, substance-abuse issues and disclosure of sexual abuse in childhood. In the past month at Actevate we have helped people deal with awkward and disturbing confessionals that embodied these characteristics. The message is that these events are not as unusual as you might think and because they may have happened under the auspices of a fun event where people are under the influence, it doesn’t mean that these issues should be swept under the carpet. The same goes for what happens on social media. We have attached our Mental Health First Aid Procedure which we encourage you carry out once it is safe to do so. Choose your place and time of action sensitively. Below is a guide to managing the problem in the aftermath: 

Carry out mental health first aid procedures with the help of your Work Health and Safety and/or Human Resources team or speak to Actevate for help 


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