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4 signs that a worker may be suffering from a 

mental illness 

Thursday, 25th September, 2014, by Joanna Weekes
In today's Health & Safety Bulletin:
  • 4 signs that a worker may be suffering from a mental illness
  • How you can help workers with a mental illness
Dear Reader,
Although you may not realise it, mental illness is a major health issue in the Australian workforce.
Mental illness is a health problem that affects how a person thinks, behaves and interacts with other people.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to protect the health and welfare of your workers – this extends to their mental health.

Mental illness is much more common than you’d think…
Around 45% of Australians aged between 16 and 85 will experience a mental illness at some point in their life.
Not everyone with a mental illness will have a serious mental health disorder, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

In fact, stress and anxiety are also considered mental health issues, and job stress is a lead contributor to work-related illness and injury.

Unfortunately, mental illness can be very hard to spot, and someone with a mental illness may be reluctant to come forward due to shame or embarrassment. Read on to discover how to determine if there’s a possible mental illness among your workers.
Continued below…
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Signs that a worker may be suffering from a mental illness
Train your managers to look out for warning signs that a worker may be suffering from a mental illness.
Some of the signs that could indicate a mental illness include:
  • emotional symptoms, e.g. frustration, anger, restlessness, anxiety or low mood;
  • physical symptoms caused by a worker’s illness or medication, e.g. pain, blurred vision, fatigue, etc.;
  • disengagement from work-related social activities; and
  • increased absence from work.
How to help workers suffering from a mental illness
If one or more of your workers suffers from a mental illness, you should do the following:
  • structure work hours to increase worker productivity, e.g. allow workers to start late and finish late if this helps them to be more productive;
  • provide additional work breaks if necessary within a quiet rest area;
  • provide flexible work options, e.g. give workers the option to work from home;
  • organise time in lieu where appropriate, e.g. if a worker has had to work extended hours during a particularly busy or stressful period; and
  • arrange rosters to allow workers to attend medical appointments.
Do you subscribe to the Handbook? If so you can find out more about mental illness and how to address it in your workplace by referring to chapter M3 Mental Health. If you are not yet a subscriber, find out more about the Health & Safety Handbook here.
Enjoy your weekend,
Joanna Weekes
Joanna Weekes
Editor
Health & Safety Bulletin


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