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In Australia, the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being estimated that 15% of the working population had a history of major depressive disorder, of these: 21% reported depressive symptoms in the past year and were in treatment, 17% reported depressive symptoms in the past year and were not in treatment, 11% were recovered and in treatment and, 52% were recovered and not in treatment.

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Workplaces that are inclusive of people with a mental health condition can increase their participation in the workforce and help break down stigma and improve community attitudes towards mental health.

Heads Up. Why it matters. 

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Researchers predict that by 2020, stress related illnesses (including depression and cardiovascular disease) will be the leading cause of disease burden.

Murray, C. J. L., & Lopez, A. (1996). Global health statistics: A compendium of incidence,
prevalence and mortality estimates for over 2000 conditions. Cambridge: Harvard School of Public Health.

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The marginal impact of mild depression on labour productivity is estimated to be 3.9%, rising to 9.2% for severe depression.

McTernan, W.P., Dollard, M.F., and LaMontagne, A.D. (2013). Depression in the workplace: An economic cost analysis of depression-related productivity loss attributable to job strain and bullying. Work and Stress, 27(4), 321-338.

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An Australian study found that almost one quarter of the workforce suffer from mild depression, which leads to absenteeism of 50 hours per person per annum. A further 8% experience moderate or severe depression, leading to absenteeism of up to 138 hours per person per annum.

McTernan, W.P., Dollard, M.F., and LaMontagne, A.D. (2013). Depression in the workplace: An economic cost analysis of depression-related productivity loss attributable to job strain and bullying. Work and Stress, 27(4), 321-338.

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Workers aged between 25-34 show the poorest psychological health, likely due to factors such as competing work and family demands as well as entering the workforce following study, working hard and using long hours to advance in their careers, and they experience low levels of skill discretion.

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Workplace psychosocial factors can contribute up to 59% of the risk for the onset of musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace.

Hauke, A. Flintrop, J., Brun, E., & Rugulies, R. (2011). The impact of work-related psychosocial stressors on the onset of musculoskeletal disorders in specific body regions: A review and meta-analysis of 54 longitudinal studies. Work and Stress, 25(3), 243-256.

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According to an Australian study, on average, every full time employee with untreated depression costs an organisation $9,665 per annum.

Hilton, M. (2004). Assessing the financial return on investment of good management strategies and the WORC Project. University of Queensland. 

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Survey data found that employees who believe their workplace is mentally unhealthy were less likely to disclose their mental health conditions at work, seek support from HR/management, or offer support to a colleague with a mental health condition.

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Survey results found that 46% of employees surveyed believe that mental health and well-being is a big problem in their business. Of these just 20% believe this issue is being addressed and 50% believe it is not a high priority for action.

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At any point in time, one in six working age people will be suffering from a mental illness.

Lelliott, P., Boardman, J., Harvey, S., Henderson, M., Knapp, M., & Tulloch, S. (2008). Mental health and work. London: Cross Government Health Work and Well-being Programme.

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Researchers estimate that a 10% increase in well-being is associated with 20% decrease in hospital admissions.

Harrison, P. L., Pope, J.E, Coberley, C. R., & Rula, E. Y. (2012). Evaluation of the relationship between individual well-being and future health care utilization and cost. Population Health Management, 15(6), 325-330.

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Researchers estimate that a 10% increase in well-being is associated with 16% fewer emergency room visits.

Harrison, P. L., Pope, J.E, Coberley, C. R., & Rula, E. Y. (2012). Evaluation of the relationship between individual well-being and future health care utilization and cost. Population Health Management, 15(6), 325-330.

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Job insecurity (a perceived characteristic of individual’s current role discontinuing, or chances of being, whether reflecting reality or not) increases the risk of subsequent mental ill-health by about 30%.

Stansfeld, S. & Candy, B. Psychosocial work environment and mental health – a meta-analytic review. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 32(6), 443-462.

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Coping with chronic job demands depletes an employee’s energy reserves, which can lead to psychological distress. Long term exposure can result in psychological injury (e.g. depressive disorders) and health problems (e.g. cardiovascular disease).

Schaufeli, W. B., & Bakker, A. B. (2004). Job demands, job resources, and their relationship with burnout and engagement: A multi-sample study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25, 293-315

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A 10% increase in psychosocial safety climate (the organisational climate for employee psychological health safety and well-being, reflected in the policies, practices and procedures related to the protection of mental health and well-being) would lead to a 4% reduction in exhaustion.

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A 10% increase in psychosocial safety climate (the organisational climate for employee psychological health safety and well-being, reflected in the policies, practices and procedures related to the protection of mental health and well-being) would lead to a 3% decrease in psychological health problems.

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A 10% increase in psychosocial safety climate (the organisational climate for employee psychological health safety and well-being, reflected in the policies, practices and procedures related to the protection of mental health and well-being) would lead to a 4.5% decrease in bullying.

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Psychosocial safety climate (the organisational climate for employee psychological health safety and well-being, reflected in the policies, practices and procedures related to the protection of mental health and well-being) has been identified by researchers as the ’cause of the causes’ of workplace stress.

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Workplace psychosocial safety climate (PSC) (the organisational climate for employee psychological health safety and well-being, reflected in the policies, practices and procedures related to the protection of mental health and well-being) explains 9% of variance in psychological health outcomes.

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Job strain-attributable risk for depression is 13% among Australian working males and 17% in working women.

LaMontagne, A. D., Martin, A., Page, K. M., Reavley, N. J., Noblet, A. J., Milner, A. J., … & Smith, P. M. (2014). Workplace mental health: Developing an integrated intervention approach. BMC Psychiatry, 14(1), 131.

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Job strain (high job demands with low job control) is positively associated with the utilisation of mental health services, which suggests that improving psychosocial working conditions and educating workers on stress-coping mechanisms could be beneficial for physical and mental health of employees.

Williams, J. A., Buxton, O., Hinde, J., Brae, J., & Berkman, L. (2018). Psychosocial workplace factors and healthcare utilisation: A study of two employers. International journal of health management policy, 7(7), 614-622.

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46% of Australians working in a workplace they consider mentally unhealthy have taken time off from work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy.

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On average, 6.5 working days of productivity are lost per employee annually as a result of presenteeism. Currently, the biggest contributor to the overall productivity loss caused by presenteeism is depression (21%).

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Individuals not being appropriately supported can have a flow on effect to co-workers if problems continue to be un-managed e.g. without the right adjustments in work, an employee may require time off. This means co-workers have increased workload, and there are turnover costs from recruitment and training new employees when someone is taking time off or leaves the organisation. 

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A case study of 300 manufacturing employees found that a 10 point increase in well-being scores was associated with 24% lower presenteeism.

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An Australian costing study found the greatest costs of depression among working people were incurred by employers (far exceeding healthcare costs), with turnover costs figuring more prominently than presenteeism and absenteeism costs.

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Mental ill-health costs employers an average of $3,200 per employee with mental illness per annum in absenteeism and presenteeism, and up to $5,600 for employees with severe mental illness.

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Australian Workplace Barometer results suggest that approximately AUD$ 17.84 billion in costs to the employer could be saved if the mental well-being of the 25% least psychologically healthy working Australians could be raised to the level of the 25% most psychological healthy workers.

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Costs associated with not addressing psychological health and safety in the workplace can include costs and time related to: stress-related illnesses, absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, short- and long-term disability, benefit utilisation rates, workers’ compensation claims, return to work and accommodation, employee and family assistance plan use, workplace grievances, workplace conflict, health and safety infractions, human rights violations, and adverse events.

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A survey of Australian workers revealed that 91% of Australian workers consider it important to safeguard psychological health in the workplace. Despite this, approximately half of the employees surveyed believe that their workplace is not mentally healthy.