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NSW Government Tackles Mental Health at Work

Thursday, November 02, 2017
New South Wales is Australia’s leading economy; however at any given time one in six employees is suffering from a mental illness, which equates to more than 800,000 workers in NSW. Mental illness is now the leading cause of long-term sickness absences among Australian workers, overtaking back pain for the first time internationally as the most common cause of work incapacity. The impact of metal health in the workplace is obviously a significant issue and, thankfully, it is one that governments are starting to take seriously.

The research shows that NSW employers are failing to address the mental health of their workers appropriately. In fact, according to an independent survey of more than 2000 employees across NSW, fewer than one in 10 of the state's workplaces have an integrated and sustained approach to mental health. This is an alarming statistic given the total annual cost of mental ill health to NSW employers is estimated at $2.8 billion.  

The NSW government is now planning a new strategy to combat mental illness in workplaces across the state, replacing the “risk based approaches” that some businesses use with proactive interventions aimed at preventing or mitigating mental health problems. NSW employers will be benchmarked against a range of targets to monitor how well they respond to problems and make improvements to address the mental health of their workers. SafeWork NSW will also push for national legislative and policy reforms to strengthen employers' obligations to creating mentally healthy workplaces.



The fact is that proactive interventions make economic sense. A study at the University of Sydney's Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation and the Brain and Mind Centre found businesses that invested in workplace health promotions could reap a return of more than $4 for every $1 invested by cutting absenteeism and improving productivity. 

To ensure the ongoing success of our economy and to foster a mentally healthy environment for our workers, employers can start by identifying some of the key issues and implementing evidence-based strategies. There are numerous workplace interventions which can promote a mentally healthy environment, including: 
 
  -   Mental Health First Aid Training 
  -   Job Redesign (interventions targeting adverse job demands, job insecurity, and job control)
  -   Workplace Health Promotion 
  -   Employee Assistance Programs 
  -   Cognitive Behavioural Therapy 
  -   Custom Return to Work Programs 
 
Contact Actevate today and start tailoring a program designed to meet the needs of your workplace and employees.

 
-- Nas Dianati is a Senior Rehabilitation Counsellor at Actevate


Resources:  
http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/half-of-nsw-businesses-have-no-mental-health-strategy-survey-using-new-algorithm-shows-20171018-gz34p2.html 

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/the-plan-to-create-mentally-healthy-workplaces-across-nsw-20170928-gyqchj.html 

http://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/320132/Mentally-healthy-workplaces-A-return-on-investment-study-August-2017-SW08735.pdf 

http://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/320232/Mentally-healthy-workplaces-in-NSW-discussion-paper-September-2017-SW08615.pdf

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