According to the World Health Organization, mental health is ‘a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. ’

As employers, and as co-workers, we have a moral imperative and a legal obligation to do everything possible to ensure a safe working environment for everyone in our workplace.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “HEALTH”?

While mental health issues can be the result of an underlying medical condition, it’s important to understand the “mental illness” may simply be an absence of “mental health”. When someone is struggling to cope with the normal stresses of life or doesn’t enjoy a state of mental well-being, their health is not optimal and there’s a chance that they are unable to perform at their best level.

If an unhealthy state is left to continue or is not addressed, there is a danger that the situation can spiral deeper and lead to more severe distress.

WHAT IS NORMAL?

Historically, admitting to feeling depression or anxiety, or any other mental health condition was seen as a form of weakness. Men, especially, can feel that any discussion of their emotions or state of mind might stigmatise them in the eyes of the workmates or family.

However, the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHWB) which was conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 45% of respondents had suffered some form of mental disorder at some point in their life and 1 in 5 people reported doing so within the last 12 months.

The prevalence and widespread impact of mental health issues on the community is now being recognised and a growing number of high-profile personalities are talking about their own health journey to help reset the conversation about ‘what is normal’.

MENTAL HEALTH IN CONSTRUCTION

A report published by Deakin University in 2016 found that suicide rates for male construction workers in Australia were almost double the rate for workers employed in other industries.  

However, the situation is improving with that gap reducing steadily over the last 20 years.

MENTAL HEALTH AT HAMMERS WORKFORCE

At Hammers Workforce, we take a ‘whole of person’ view of health and safety. Our attitude is that merely preventing a safety incident, or a health crisis, is not enough. Safety and strong mental health go hand in hand because the best level of safety vigilance and awareness can only be achieved when our teams are at their best – mentally and physically.

That’s why we have an active practice of checking in with each member of our team. How are they feeling? Do they have any concerns, either at work or at home, that are getting in the way of doing their job?

We also recognise that well-trained employees feel more confident on the job and are less likely to make mistakes. Positive performance feeds confidence and reduces anxiety which, in turn, helps to maintain and improve performance.

Statistics show that people who have a peer group to talk to and share their experiences do twice as well, from a mental health perspective, compared to people who face their challenges alone.

Hammers Workforce was built on creating close long-term working relationships with our teams because that’s what we value. Knowing that these values are closely aligned with better mental health in the company is a just one more reason we reinforce those values every day.

REFERENCES

National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)

Mental health in Australia: a quick guide – Parliament of Australia (aph.gov.au)

Mental health | Safe Work Australia

1. Mental health in the workplace | Australian Human Rights Commission

Mental health in the workplace (who.int)

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