Who are you killing just to hear the phrase – ‘We’re killing it!!’
You’d have to be Dr Seuss’ Grinch to hate Christmas. What could be better than a Christmas lunch,
presents, and the general excitement of the festive period? While Christmas is an exciting time of
year, it can also be an exhausting and draining one for employees as consumer activity and
workloads spike 15% or more.
Staff can easily be overworked and overstretched, and have to work additional hours, all in the name
of ‘killing it’ (getting great results) this festive season.
With this in mind, how many Grinches are you fostering in your business, as job pressures begin to
build? And by the way, this is a question that should be considered ANY time of year.
What are we talking about?
It’s dark but there’s light,
I’m sick but you can’t catch it.
It’s there but only I can see it,
I smile but I’m not happy.
What am I?
Mental Health is defined as a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional
It may not be World Mental Health Day, but do we really need one day, and one day only, to discuss
topics. Every day should be a Mental Health Day.
To be honest, Mental Health wasn’t touched on too much before about two years ago, but it’s great
that more people are talking about it today. You may not have a connection with mental health
personally, or via those closest to you, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers. The scary thing
is that one day you could be fine, and then something in your life could trigger anxiety, panic attacks,
or other struggles.
Why is this something to consider over Christmas?
We hear the term ‘We’re Killing It’ in a positive and successful sense, but are we killing those around
us just to hear that remark. As we come up to the festive season, the number of those facing mental
health struggles or suicide attempts is much higher than at any other time of year.
Mental health issues are some of the most critical threats to society, damaging our health and
relationships, costing the economy, and endangering our lives. Mental health conditions such as
depression and anxiety cost Australian businesses up to $12 billion A YEAR.
The number of people attempting to end their lives is estimated at as many as 85,980 per year. In
2016, the total number of suicide deaths sits at a staggering 2,866. This is, in fact, a decrease since
2015, when numbers were as high as 3,027, but still far too high.
Around 13,545 workers engage in non-fatal suicidal behavior each year, with 2,303 resulting in full
incapacity, and 11,242 needing a short absence from work.
In November 2017, even a guy as funny as Jim Carey (aka The Grinch) opened up about issues
around depression and mental health.
Mental health has been found to affect job involvement, job satisfaction, loyalty, performance,
absence, turnover, and physical health. It’s time to start talking about it and helping others.
What can we do about this?
Ways to improve mental health should be a priority. These include meditation, writing, and healthy
lifestyle choices, all of which are means of shifting negativity and creating a positive headspace.
Mental health issues are the leading cause of sickness, absence, and long-term work incapacity in
most developed countries, including Australia, where in 2013, they overtook musculoskeletal
This problem is driving people to suicide at an unprecedented rate. Eight Australians die by their
own hand each day; six of them men. For every person who succeeds, there are another 30 who
attempt suicide, with 85,980 people in this country trying to take their own lives in any given year. It
is the most common cause of death in Australians aged 15-44, more likely to kill you than a motor
vehicle accident or skin cancer. A massive 20 percent of suicides are linked to work.
The toll of mental health issues is usually greatest for the worker, with many sufferers losing their
jobs, or finding their sick pay quickly runs out. Then there’s the taxpayer, who has to pay extra for
goods because of struggling employees and has to fund mental health services and benefits, which
are typically higher if the issue has been left to fester for long periods.
An emotional tornado is picking up speed and pulling many workers towards its core, and as an
employer, it’s time to act now! How can we prevent this, and future-proof workloads, lifestyle,
relationships, and finances?
Let’s look at it like this
If you know floods coming and you’re at risk, you begin taking steps to protect yourself and your
home. You start collecting sandbags, ensuring pets are in a safe place and removing furniture off the
ground, just to name a few things.
That $ 12 billion dollars and a number of deaths in the flood. What are you going to do about
preventing the draining of your business accounts? Ensuring mental health measures are in place is
very important for safeguarding your business. This could be empowering workers to speak up to
managers, bringing in professional help, allowing workers to have mental health days if needed;
training managers to help in these situations, and looking out for signs. The famous saying ‘people
don’t leave companies, they leave managers’ rings true in so many ways. If you have strong
managers and provide support to your workers, what reason do they have to leave? Prevention is
better than cure.
Educate yourself and your employees around Mental Health
Improve workloads and pressures
Demonstrate healthy work habits
Have a plan – from a business and manager perspective
What’s Australia’s Problem?
Australia has a reputation for being a healthy country, with a deeply ingrained love of fresh produce,
sport, nature, and the outdoor lifestyle.
But while we consistently perform strongly in other measures of well-being such as environment,
civic engagement, and physical health, we are weak in areas including work/life balance and
indigenous disadvantage. Australians work extremely long hours, with 20% of men and 7% of
women in paid employment working 50 hours or more per week in 2015, according to a new report
by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. That puts us 27th out of the 35 OECD countries.
Researchers have found that mental health issues for workers are related to a number of factors,
including high job demand (for example, time pressures) and low control (for example, decisionmaking capacity).
Another important element is job opportunity and security. Roles that offer variety, interest, and
feedback are associated with higher levels of workplace well-being. Job insecurity, lack of resources
or learning opportunities, and disproportionate pressures to perform are associated with poor
workplace mental health.
In the current job landscape, in which working lives are characterized by a lack of fulfilment, underemployment, boredom, pressure, insecure part-time or casual work, underpayment, and few
opportunities, it’s no wonder we are more stressed than we’ve ever been. It’s a crisis we urgently
need to address.
The research shows several clear, job-related risk factors that lead a person to develop mental
health issues and potentially attempt suicide. Job strain can involve a lack of resources, engagement,
exposure to extreme stress, and long hours.
Then there’s a lack of respect or value. This could involve being bullied, sexually harassed, or
ignored. Bosses who are not open or fair in their decision-making can generate feelings of
resentment and misery in employees.
The third major factor is occupational uncertainty. Workers whose jobs are insecure are likely to be
under more stress than others, particularly if finances are an issue. Job insecurity partially explains
why low-paying contractors are at more risk of suicide than others, with construction workers having
the highest rates of suicide in Australia. Roles in farming and manufacturing are also high-risk.
Other jobs with elevated rates of suicide include doctors, nurses, vets, lawyers and bankers. This is
attributed to high demands, long hours, hierarchy, gender norms, and — in the case of medical
professions — daily trauma and access to the means to take your life.
Poor mental well-being is typically the result of a combination of individual vulnerabilities, social
factors, and environmental triggers. Men are more at risk than women, and people living in rural
areas are in more danger of suicide. A difficult work situation could exacerbate other issues in
someone’s life, whether a relationship breakdown, financial stress, bereavement, genetic
predisposition to depression, substance abuse, isolation or sexual harassment.
There are various programs in place through federal and state governments, non-profits, and private
companies, but there is a lack of consistency, and some are far ahead of others. Experts say we need
workers to prioritize their mental health and that of those around them; employers to create a
supportive culture, with universal support on an ongoing basis; and structural change within
industries, with the assistance of government. Vitally, we need to remove the culture of shame and
be willing to address mental health as we would any other problem.
How can Donesafe help?
Donesafe can offer you a solution to help identify employees with mental health issues and to help
them win the battle against them.
From lower wages to higher taxes to a spiraling cost of living, mental health issues can be
extraordinarily expensive for everyone. It is estimated that around 20-30% of the workforce will
suffer from a serious mental health problem during their working life; this includes anxiety,
depression, or OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Invisible (to the eye) illnesses such as these
generate astronomical costs for employers. Whether a worker takes several days of sick leave, is not
fully functioning in a role, or is on long-term leave, these all come at a cost to the company.
It is estimated that every dollar spent on effective workplace mental health actions may generate
$2.30 in benefits to an organization — a $2.3 return on investment.
Talk to Donesafe today.
And as always, keep safe out there.
By Donesafe at donesafe.com
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