Exercise helps prevent depression

A study led by the Black Dog Institute has revealed that regular exercise of any intensity can prevent future depression – and just one hour can help.

The results show even small amounts of exercise can protect against depression, with mental health benefits seen regardless of age or gender.

The study involved more than 30,000 adults who had their levels of exercise and symptoms of depression and anxiety monitored over 11 years.

The study found that 12 per cent of cases of depression could have been prevented if participants undertook just one hour of physical activity each week.

According to an Australian health survey, 20 per cent of Australian adults do not undertake any regular physical activity, and more than a third spend less than 1.5 hours per week being physically active.

At the same time, around 1 million Australians have depression, with one in five Australians aged 16-85 experiencing a mental illness in any year.

To improve your physical and mental wellbeing through exercise, see the institute’s Exercise your Mood campaign.

Help us shape the future of mental health in small business

According to the NSW Mental Health Commission, 17 per cent of people in NSW will experience mild to severe mental illness each year and a further 23 per cent are believed to have an undiagnosed mental health problem. With 1.51 million people working in small business in NSW, approximately 600,000 may be affected each year.

The opportunity to change the mental health and wellbeing of the NSW community by targeting small business is great.

Despite the availability of effective treatments for mental health conditions, evidence suggests that many people either do not seek treatment at all, or seek treatment following lengthy delays, during which the health, social and work consequences can accumulate.

Evidence also suggests that current workplace mental health programs tend to focus on larger organisations and industries and are not addressing the unique nature or the specific needs of small business.

Researchers at Everymind are developing a workplace mental health program for those who work in small business. They will work in partnership with the Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research at the University of Newcastle, the icare Foundation, and other health, mental health and business partners in NSW and nationally.

If you own a small business or have worked in a small business (20 employees or less), tell us what you think about mental health!

A range of mental health resources are also available from our website or call 13 10 50.

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.