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Nearly half of us will meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis at some stage during our lives – and the vast majority of mental health problems arising from work are excluded from ACC cover

Editorial – October / November’19

At the recent Supply Chain Symposium in Auckland, registered psychologist Bridget Jelley laid bare some hard-hitting truths regarding workplace health and safety – and she wasn’t talking about physical harm.

In her presentation, Bridget spoke about the effects of overload on a worker’s psychological wellbeing, and how hard it can be for an employer to recognise the symptoms of stress amongst their workforce. Often, she said, mental unwellness is hiding in plain sight: “We exist in our own little worlds and sometimes we miss the things that are blindingly obvious to others.” 

Some of the key things to look for, she suggested, are changes in a person’s usual behaviour, poor performance, tiredness and increased sickness absence. A normally punctual employee might start turning up late or be experiencing problems with colleagues.
 
“As a manager you should be aware of the wider organisation’s impact on your employees. It might be the case that certain tasks, work environments, times of the day, or particular teams are more likely to be associated with people experiencing difficulties,” she said. 

No one is immune to poor mental health. “Mental disorders show no prejudice and anyone from any walk of life can be affected,” Bridget said. And the statistics make for sobering reading: depression is now ranked by the World Health Organisation as the single largest contributor to global disability. Here in NZ, nearly half of us will meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis at some stage during our lives – and the vast majority of mental health problems arising from work are excluded from ACC cover.

Most organisations within the transport and logistics sector will have a physical hazard register displayed within the workplace – but how many will have a psychological risk register on display? “At work, people are more likely to be harmed psychologically than physically,” Bridget concluded. “What energy, effort and dollars are you investing into protecting the psychological wellbeing of your people?”

Until next time … 
Lynne Richardson, editor 

LRichardson@astonpublishing.co.nz


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