Context Mental health is one of the major health issues affecting workers worldwide, and in Australia represents 12% of the overall burden of disease. It is estimated one in five working Australians will experience an affective, anxiety or substance use disorder in any given year and the cost of mental health conditions to Australian business is estimated at $10.9 billion per year.
Process WorkSafe Victoria, through the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR), has invested in a range of research projects over the past ten years to increase our understanding of how to design and improve workplace mental health programs. This has involved systematic reviews of available evidence, environmental scans of best practice initiatives globally, evaluations of current programs and analysis of workplace compensation claims data. ISCRR has been actively translating the findings of this research to inform the development of new workplace mental health programs, including WorkSafe Victoria’s current $50 million (AUD) state-wide WorkWell initiative.
Outcomes This research has led to many unique insights, however some of the major overall findings are:
Programs that effectively prevent work–related mental health conditions deliver a financial return to companies.
Workload management for office workers is critical to preventing work–related stress and effective tools exist to assist organisations to better manage workload.
No single intervention is effective at preventing and supporting frontline workers experiencing vicarious trauma, instead a multi–faceted approach tailored to the workplace setting is recommended involving both worker and employer.
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