Encouraging Reporting of Psychological Injuries

psychological injuries

Mental health is a hot topic throughout the community right now.  Any delay in reporting psychological injuries is a problem. Australia is recognising the massive impact it is having. Government, community and business all play an important role. When we see mental health statistics that show 3 million people have anxiety and/or depression. When 200 people attempt suicide every day. When 8 people take their own lives and 25% attempt it again when they don’t succeed; we start to get alarmed. Of the 8 daily suicides, 75% are men. Beyond Blue also note that 50% of people suffering depression don’t seek help.

Stigma, the lack of support and unchanging environments continue to support the rise in mental health decline. For business the cost of rehabilitation for a mental stress claim is on average $250,000. Employees need 14.8 weeks off work and the likelihood of a relapse is high. Yet the stigma around psychological illness is often hidden and laced with fear or scorn. Stigma leads to treating people unfairly and can affect how they see themselves. Due to stigma, Price Waterhouse Cooper estimate less than half of all sufferers actually discuss their issue openly with family, workmates or employers.

The Konekt Market Report analysed 156,000 Australian workers compensation cases on workplace injuries. The research found that the prevailing job insecurity plaguing our economy has workers delay in reporting injuries. The average delay from having a psychological injury to reporting  to referral for rehabilitation, was over six months. Delay in reporting psychological injuries has significant impact on timely and effective recovery. There is the danger of additional psycho-social injuries brought on by a fear of losing their job. There is also the added financial strain during recovery.

Research acknowldges an association between psychological injuries and physical injuries. Whereby, psychological injuries can lead to a lack of focus on critical or high-risk tasks. Any delay in reporting psychological injuries increases the risk of physical workplace injuries occurring. Couple this with the stigma associated with mental illness and we have a growing issue in the workplace. We have some serious work to do to break down these barriers. The key to quicker rehabilitation after a workplace injury, is early referral and management.

Young women more likely to experience anxiety

Research shows that young women are most at risk of experiencing anxiety in the workplace. 10,000 women, aged between 18-35 years were surveyed for the Jean Hailes Women’s Health Survey. The results showed that 40% have been professionally diagnosed with depression or anxiety. Much of the blame has been centred on their use of social media and the need to be connected 24/7.

More than 40% reported feeling anxious, nervous and “on the edge”. Many agreed to regularly feeling easily annoyed or irritated. The impact of anxiety and stress is showing with workplace health and safety statistics. Recent reports indicate that 20% of staff are experiencing a mental health issue at any given time. However, over 50% delay reporting workplace injuries and illness for fear of losing their job or being treated differently. Vulnerability and stigma are the key barriers with an average of staff engagement with their Employment Assistance Programmes at a low of 5%.

Young women are particularly active on social media platforms. The use of mobile devices places Australia as a world consumer with 87% connected.  Mobile has more impact on consumer actions than television as demonstrated by the 2015 Brand Building on Mobile Survey conducted by Google and Ipsos. So how can business use social media and software to address anxiety in the workplace? Anxiety can be managed and addressed if businesses are guided where to look and what to do.

psychological injuries

How do you develop a mentally healthy workplace?

Research shows that those experiencing mental health issues increase in severity when they do not access mental health support services. The catch is… support services often require the individual to reach out. There are three important facets that underpin the process of developing a mentally healthy workplace.

1. Create a healthy environment

Today through mobile devices we are connected 24/7. But it’s important for employers to take a look at the expectations that they have of their staff. We expect employees to respond to work-related email from home. Many work hours beyond a reasonable working week. Some take work home to complete after hours. These are just a few examples that can increase workplace stress. Business can start by using social media and software to push the message to reach out and seek help. This is the way people, especially young people, are accessing information. Simply stating that young women should reduce their social media connectivity, isn’t going to solve the problem.

psychological injuries

2. Help employees to recognise the early signs 

Recent numbers indicate that 20% of employees are experiencing a mental health issue at any given time. However, many are unaware that they may be undertaking practices that impact on their mental health. They are unsure of the early signs and symptoms of early mental health decline. Education is the key here. Workplaces could provide information on the signs and symptoms of anxiety and encourage staff to seek help early.

3. Encourage help-seeking and provide support

Research is showing that many employees are afraid to speak up about mental health issues because they fear they may lose their job or be treated differently. Almost 50% of employees suffering from mental health decline wait up to 6 months before they report a problem. A delay in reporting mental health issues often results in a more serious stress claim with longer recovery periods.  Stigma is the number one reason for people’s reluctance to seek help. Business needs to develop a supportive culture and recognise that mental health decline doesn’t have to result in a permanent disability.

Encouraging help-seeking is a step forward in developing a mentally healthy workplace. E-mental health support represents an important form of help-seeking. In recent research specifically around young people, 8.65% reported seeking help using e-mental health solutions because they were concerned that they may be developing psychological difficulties. A further 15.7% reported experiencing regular psychological difficulties.

psychological injuries

The internet is a key medium

The internet is a key medium for reaching young people and online health-information seeking has huge potential benefits including:

  • easy accessibility;
  • absence of geographical boundaries;
  • free access;
  • interactivity;
  • potential social support;
  • personalisation;
  • anonymity and privacy; and
  • potential to address the gap between identified needs and limited resources.

Research shows that e-mental health support as a form of care may enhance mental health literacy. It may also contribute to a more active attitude. Improvement in attitude is important in facilitating and receiving treatment as well as increasing mental health empowerment. e-mental health support may encourage active reporting of psychological injuries in a proactive and timely manner. Early intervention is the key to successful and quicker recovery.

See our posts on the 3 steps towards a mentally healthy workplace and encouraging help-seeking.

The Tap Into Safety Mental Health Training increases mental health literacy on workplace stressors to teach effective coping strategies. The e-learning solution can be used online, tablets, mobile phone and in the classroom.

Tackling mental health decline to grow a mentally healthy workplace is not solved in a one-sized fits all approach. Organisations need to offer a variety of solutions and activities to encourage people who need help, to reach out and do so as early as possible. If you would like to know more about our Mental Health Training contact us and try a FREE online demo today.

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