Mental health and wellbeing at work

Posted on October 5, 2013

October 2013 is Mental Health Month in most Australian States and Territories: a campaign aimed at raising awareness about mental health issues, ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2013. Mental Health Month serves as an opportunity for employers to focus on mental health issues, and creating a safe working environment free of risks to both physical and mental wellbeing.

Work health and safety (WHS) laws impose obligations on employers to ensure (so far as is reasonably practicable) the health and safety of workers and provide a workplace which does not expose workers to risks to their health and safety. These obligations extend to both physical and mental health. Increasingly, the State regulators of WHS laws (like WorkSafe in Victoria and WorkCover in NSW) are focussed on mental health issues. For example, most State regulators have recently issued codes of practice or guidelines for dealing with workplace bullying.

Dealing with mental illness and workplace stress is a complex issue for employers because there are often a number of complicating factors at play, sometimes including an employee's own concealment of these types of illnesses, dealing with stigma and a tendency of managers to avoid dealing with mental illnesses in the same way as they might in relation to physical ailments.

A good starting point is to make sure that your policies and procedures (including your WHS and anti-discrimination policies) adequately address the possibility that employees may be impacted by mental illness in the workplace.

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Category(s):Workplace Issues

Source material from Lexology


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