1 in 5 take stress sickies

One in five of us take a mental health ‘sickie’ every year.

Findings also suggest almost half the nation’s workforce believe their workplaces are mentally unhealthy.

That’s half of the people you work with – or maybe even you – who feel their mental health is compromised by their working environment.

These workers, and you, are three times more likely to take sick days due to mental health problems.

Statistically speaking, a staggering six million-plus working days are lost in Australia every year due to untreated depression.

National organisation beyondblue, which commissioned the research, said the results showed too many workers faced an unacceptable risk of developing depression and anxiety from job stress.

Situations that might lead to psychological injury are stress, fatigue, prolonged or excessive work pressures, harassment, bullying, exposure to traumatic or violent events at work, or a mixture of these things.

We are all aware of the effect that bullying and stress has on our state of mind, however often overlooked are the physical factors in the work environment that can push us over the edge.

For example, constant exposure to unhealthy or unsafe work environments may cause stress and strain over a long period of time and make us feel, not just bad about where we work and what we do, but lead to a mental injury.

Data from SafeWork NSW shows 15,902 people made mental injury claims for workers compensation in the three years from 2011 to 2014, at a cost of $250 million.

Ron Keelty, Director of SafeWork NSW’s Specialist Services said employers can encourage good mental health and reduce absenteeism at the same time by understanding the value in creating a mentally healthy workplace.

‘Healthier, happier workers create a better, more productive work environment, and employers are responsible under work health and safety obligations for making improvements to minimise psychological risks,’ Mr Keelty said.

‘We spend large amounts of our time at work, so it really needs to be a place where we can be supported to function properly.

‘There are resources available to help you set up an environment that people want to be in and feel good about.

‘It’s in everyone’s interest to recognise and take action on psychological injury – mental illness costs people their wellbeing, but doing nothing also costs business.’

Visit the SafeWork NSW website for resources to help businesses and individuals plan and manage mental health in the workplace.

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