Mental Health in the Workplace

Early intervention for mental health problems

There are different ways of defining the term mental health. Some definitions emphasise positive psychological well-being whereas others see it as the absence of mental health problems.

There is a wide range of interventions for treating mental health problems.

Early intervention programs target people with mental health problems and those who are just developing them. They aim to prevent problems from becoming more serious and reduce the likelihood of secondary effects such as loss of employment, school drop-out, relationship break-up and drug and alcohol problems.

Many people have a long delay between developing a mental health problem and receiving appropriate treatment and support. The longer people delay getting help and support, the more difficult the recovery can be. It is important that people are supported by their family, friends and work colleagues during this time. People are more likely to seek help if someone close to them suggests it.

It can be hard to know whether you or someone you know needs help for a mental health problem. These sites can help you find out more about mental health problems and where to get help in Australia.

Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
Beyond Blue info line 1300 22 4636
SANE Australia
Black Dog Institute

The role of early intervention in the prevention of psychological injury claims

Psychological injury claims tend to be more costly and usually involve longer absence periods than physical injury claims. Early intervention for mental health problems, paths to alternative employment where possible and effective conflict resolution where necessary can help prevent many claims occurring. Mental health training can play a key role in assisting supervisors with these processes.

Useful links

Work Assist

Work Assist is available to people at risk of losing their job because of illness, injury, or disability, to help them stay in their current job or find a more suitable one with the same employer. If you are at risk of losing your job because you are ill, injured, or have a disability, Job in Jeopardy Assistance can help by seeing what can be done to keep you with your current employer. It does not help you find a new job. Job in Jeopardy Assistance is free and is available through direct registration with a Disability Employment Provider.

An initiative between the College of Law and leading law firms, Resilience @ law aims to raise awareness and understanding of the nature and impact of stress, depression and anxiety across the legal profession.

RU OK day, a national day of action dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other ‘Are you ok?’.

Useful Links – Click the logo to visit the website

"In so many cases, managers or colleagues, they might think that there's a problem but they avoid it, they don't ask early enough. So by the time they do have the conversation, it's really difficult - people are on the back foot and it can get hostile. Managers need to be more proactive and have these conversations earlier. You can keep it low key, just check in with the person, ask them if they are getting the support they need."
HR Manager
*not her real name
"If someone broke their arm we wouldn't be worrying about whether or not we were liable, we'd just send them to the doctor. It should be the same for mental health problems."
OHS Manager
* not his real name
"Some employers think that if they accept that there is a problem, then that means they are accepting liability. Sometimes that stops them helping get employees into treatment. Actually they would be better off getting the person into treatment early - that's likely to reduce the risk of a stress claim. I recommend that where they can, employers offer to pay for two sessions of treatment without considering issues of liability."
Occupational Physician
*not her real name