Psychological resilience and impact of declining mental health in the workplace was a focus by the Chandler Macleod Group as Finalists in the “Excellence in Safety and Risk Management” category of the RCSA Awards. The event for 470 guests was held in Melbourne last week and Dr Susanne Bahn and Shane Herft from Tap into Safety were guests.
Chandler Macleod Group have placed a clear focus on improving the wellbeing of their internal staff and their candidates. Because they service such a wide array of industries, they are in a key position to make a significant difference in the level of support they provide for staff at risk of mental health decline. Chandler Macleod Group are avid users of Tap into Safety’s All of Me solution.
This post details mental health and wellbeing issues and presents key psychological resilience protective factors and strategies that organisations can use within their workplace wellbeing programmes.
Psychological Resilience and Stress
Absenteeism and presenteeism as a result of declining mental health costs Australians $15 billion every year.
Mental stress is both good and bad. Good stress is our motivator for example, when we push ourselves to complete a task on time and on budget. Stress is bad when we have prolonged feelings that make us feel easily agitated, frustrated, moody, we feel like we’re losing control, or when we have difficulty relaxing. There are a number of coping strategies that we can use to deal with stress – exercise, time with family and friends, reading a good book. Everyone handles stress differently with varying levels of psychological resilience. The more stress we are put under, the more pressure we feel. Many of us have strong psychological resilience and the capacity to withstand the pressure.
There have been a number of studies that have tested resilience and stress and have determined three key protective factors:
- Coping Skills – Our ability to “look on the bright side” of things, or regulate our own emotions.
- Sense of Control – The degree to which we feel in control of our lives and the things we can achieve (psychologists call this self-efficacy).
- Social Support – The degree to which we have support from our friends and family.
How well we’re able to handle workplace stress depends on our level of psychological resilience. But some people struggle, their resilience is low and the pressure becomes too much and impacts on their work and personal life.
In 2014, one in five Australians (21%) reported that they had taken time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy.
So how can organisations overcome this and reduce this risk? Here are 10 ways:
What does the Regulator Suggest?
The Australian Regulator, Safe Work Australia, has recently published National Guidance Material on work-related psychological health and safety. They have firmly placed psychological risk in the workplace hazard arena that has traditionally focused on physical injuries. Preventing both physical and mental injury is now required within a holistic approach to managing workplace safety. Psychosocial hazards should be identified within the risk-management process and managed using the hierarchy of controls.
Safe Work Australia suggests that psychosocial hazards may be identified by:
They recommend in complex situations to seek advice on specific risk identification and assessment techniques and the help of specialists.
Another key message from the Regulator is around intervening early. The Guidance Material provides information on reasonably practical steps and suggests that organisations need to:
Identify and Address Early Indicators of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Psychometric testing is an early intervention mechanism that helps organisations to look beyond surface level characteristics and ‘types’, to assess for deeper indicators of psychological health e.g. resilience, emotional control, social sensitivity and the capacity to proactively bounce back from setbacks and obstacles. Psychometrics can also inform and support resilience and wellbeing development programmes for existing employees.
Over time, organisations can utilise psychometrics to identify and support those who may be at risk of mental health decline, while building an increasingly resilient workforce. All of Me is a tool that can be used within a psychometric assessment programme.
We believe All of Me to be an amazing e-mental health tool, which as part of a comprehensive mental health programme, can start driving much needed industry improvement in this area.
– Gary Whittaker, General Manager – Staffing Services WA/SA/NT, Chandler Macleod Group
All of Me offers training delivered online and via smart devices, anywhere, anytime on relevant workplace topics that impact mental health using fun animation, gamification and interaction. As part of a well-being programme, All of Me helps business to intervene early and support worker mental health better by providing relevant and interactive workplace wellbeing training. To learn more please take a look at the video below:
The solution offers ‘one click away’ from help to reach out for support (on average only 5% access their Employment Assistance Provider, when 20% have an issue right now – stigma plays a huge role here). All of Me increases help-seeking by 100% as shown in the product evaluation conducted in 2017. By encouraging help-seeking early, we reduce the escalation into serious workplace stress claims. This assists employees to tell us when they are not well or not feeling as good as they should.
Finally, to psychometric measurement – the diagnostic tool (animated, gamified DASS-21) is a world first in its use across organisations, that together with our filters, enables them to pinpoint groups of staff in mental health decline so that they can target and tailor their wellbeing education programmes. This not only saves them money; their programmes are now more effective.
With over 11 years’ consultancy and 9 years’ research including more than 50 published journal articles, Sue knows her way around safety in hazardous workplaces. Her specific expertise focuses on induction deafness, risk blindness and risk management. A passionate individual, Sue is on a mission to lift the safety standard across Australia and internationally. Her qualifications include a PhD (Business – Health and Safety Management), a Masters in Human Resource Management, a Bachelor of Education and a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. In July 2017 Sue was appointed as a panel member of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Small Business Finance Advisory Panel. This appointment is an exciting opportunity to provide the Bank with valuable information on the financial and economic conditions faced by small businesses throughout Australia.
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Originally published on Tap into Safety