mental health

10 April 2024 posted by Recovery Partners

Safe Work Australia’s Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace Report has revealed new insights into the impact that poor psychological health can have in the workplace. Data was compiled from the National Dataset for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS), People at Work (PAW) and the National Return to Work (NRTW) survey. Given the effect that it has on employee’s mental health, return to work outcomes and employer costs, it is understandable why businesses are becoming increasingly committed to making changes within their workplaces.  

Data reveals that 2 in 5 (42.9%) of Australians have experienced a mental health condition at one point in their life. Implementing strategies and programs to help identify hazards and mitigate psychological risks, helps support employees and decrease financial and time-related costs to businesses.

Key Findings and Statistics:

Mental Health Claims

One of the most significant contributing factors to psychological and physical harm is exposure to psychosocial hazards at work. There were over 10,000 serious mental stress claims made between 2021-22, with 52.2% of the claimants reporting that it was due to work-related harassment, bullying, and work pressure. It also revealed that 9% (11,700) of serious worker’s compensation claims, and 7% of all work-related injuries and illnesses were attributed to mental health conditions. Between the years of 2017-18 and 2021-22, there was also a 36.9% increase in claims.

mental health

The largest contributor of claims for mental health conditions was mental stress with 96% of claims identifying it as the cause. The remaining 8% of claims were due to being assaulted by a person or persons or being involved in a vehicle accident. The main causes of the 10,000 mental stress claims made between 2021 and 2022 were:

  • 27.5% work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying;
  • 25.2% work pressure;
  • 16.4% exposure to workplace or occupational violence.
mental health

Key findings also revealed that during this period, the average compensation paid for mental illness conditions per claim was $56,615, compared to $15,743 for serious claims for all injuries and diseases. Additionally, mental health conditions were also associated with employees having more time away from work. The average time lost due to mental illness conditions over this period was 34.2 working weeks per serious claim, a stark comparison to the 8.0 working weeks per serious claim for all injuries and diseases.

Industry and Occupation
 

The leading industries that recorded the highest number of serious claims for work-related mental health conditions were:

  • Healthcare
  • Social Assistance
  • Public Administration
  • Safety
  • Education
  • Training

Data uncovered that this can largely be attributed to a higher exposure of psychosocial hazards including high job demands, bullying in the workplace and work-related occupational violence.

Gender
 

The largest portion of serious claims for mental health conditions made were attributed to women at 57.8%. Key findings reveal that there were two main insights when determining why this was the case. The first insight was that women were more likely to work in industries and occupations where they were exposed to above-average rates of psychosocial hazards. The second insight was that they were more likely to be exposed to harmful behaviours such as sexual harassment, bullying and work-related violence and aggression at work than men. Data reveals that between 2021 and 2022, 31.1% of women with a mental health claim reported that they had experienced work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying compared to 22.6% of men.

Return to Work Outcomes
 

In addition to the financial and time-related costs associated with mental health condition claims, data uncovered that it also had an impact on employee return to work rates. For people with mental health condition claims during 2021, return to work rates were 79.1% compared to 96.1% for all injuries. It found that 44.5% of employees who had mental health condition claims also required additional time off.

Return to work outcomes were also worse for workers with claims for mental health in comparison to those who had claims for other reasons. Additionally, it was revealed that employees in the process of making mental health claims found it more difficult than other claim reasons and that their employers sometimes discouraged them from putting it in.

When mental health claimants returned to work, data unveiled that 55.3% of workers were more likely to work fewer hours compared to 58.6% for all injuries. Furthermore, 27.8% of mental health claimants performed different duties compared to the duties that they completed prior to their injury.

How can we help?
 

Psychological services are incredibly important, especially during these challenging times. Recovery Partners qualified and registered psychologists can conduct services remotely or on-site Australia-wide.

  • Mental Health Screening
  • Awareness Building through training
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • SafeMinds
  • Job Task Analysis
  • Pre-Employment Health Assessments

Ensure your workplace is psychologically safe for your employees by downloading our Free Psychosocial Checklist and assess what gaps currently exist. 

 

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/