Mental Health · Workplace Health
What We Can Learn From the Australians About Workplace Mental Health Protection
A few years ago, before the Canadian Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the workplace was published, I was researching how employers could assess their own workplace to identify risks and vulnerabilities for mental injury. My research took me to Australia, where the employers have much to offer the rest of the world relating to mental health prevention in the workplace.
You see, Australia had experience in this area. WCB’s in Australia had been awarding mental injury claims for a number of years already. In fact, their mental injury claims topped the charts at 24% of the claim burden! They were also lasting 3 times longer than other injuries, and costing more. Unfortunately, in Canada, we can expect to be on the same path.
The ‘claims burden’ is a lag indicator, meaning by the time you are noticing the claims in your organization are rising, it’s too late; the problem has been there for a long time already. So what we really need to do is learn from the Australians, by identifying and reducing risks in the workplace BEFORE they turn into a WCB claim.
How do we do this?
The Southern Australia University launched a major project designed to measure the workplace risks for mental injury, in all workplaces. The Australian Barometer Project report published data that showed industry specific risks for mental injury, and was shared with all Australian employers so they could work to reduce the risks that were relevant to them.
This report was just one element of a full strength project set to improve mental health outcomes through workplace changes. Australia WCB’s now provide some of the best mental health resources for employers that I have found. I am eager to learn how this project has helped them to reduce mental injury claims, but regardless, it is helping employers by providing the tools they need to assess their own workplace and start to make change.
You can know your workplace risk for mental injury by measuring your Psychosocial Safety Climate (PSC). The PSC is the shared perceptions about policy and procedures that protect workers’ psychological health. The “PSC-12” is a validated tool and includes 12 questions, asked anonymously to your workers. You can find the tools you need through the Australian report, or some excellent resources at: the Mental Health Commission of Canada. This is a simple measurement that can make a big difference. By knowing your PSC you can identify what areas you need to improve to reduce workplace mental health risks, and prevent any WCB claims piling up, as well as help your employees to work happier, healthier and stronger.
If you’re looking for more information on how to measure your PSC, reach out to me directly at email@example.com. My team and I have all the tools and knowledge you need to calculate your score, and make the necessary adjustments.
Diana Vissers is the Founder and Director of Corporate Services at Work to Wellness Rehabilitation Inc. – a Canadian company providing expert disability management services to Canadian customers. She is in the business of making your place of business healthy, safe and productive. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest news and updates on health, wellness and integrated disability management.