The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and insurance company EML launched the Mind Your Head campaign to raise awareness of mental health hazards like the impact of isolated work, high job demands and violent events so that they’re understood and dealt with like physical workplace safety issues such as electrical or trip hazards.
The ACTU and EML noted that unlike physical hazards, employers often don’t identify workplace mental health hazards or put systems and practices in place to address them, which has contributed to a mental health emergency, with workplace mental injuries now the fastest-growing type of workplace injury in Australia.
Further, WorkSafe’s WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund is supporting the campaign within Victoria and will provide pilot workplaces the resources and tools needed to identify and address workplace mental health hazards before injury occurs.
ACTU assistant secretary Liam O’Brien said mental health hazards can have a major impact on workers, leaving them unable to work for long periods of time.
“This is the fastest-growing workplace health and safety issue in Australia and we need to do a lot of work quickly to stem the tide,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It starts with getting employers to treat mental health and safety with the same seriousness that we do physical health and safety.”
EML executive manager David Fryar said that just like physical health and safety hazards, workplace mental health hazards — like high workloads, isolated work and poor role clarity — injure thousands of workers each year.
“For every $1 invested in good workplace mental health practices, businesses received an average of $2.30 return on investment through lower staff turnover, higher productivity and a decrease in workers compensation claims,” Mr Fryar said.
“It’s in everyone’s interests to work towards a mentally healthy workplace.”