Are Australian businesses doing enough for mental health employees?

Date: Dec 03, 2018

Mental health in the workplace continues to be a sensitive and unfortunately prevalent subject for many Australians. New research from mental health organisation Super Friend revealed that one in five Australian employees are currently living with some form of mental health condition.

But are employers doing enough to protect themselves against workers' compensation claims?

Mental health in the workplace

Of the 20 per cent of Australian employees living with a mental health condition, an estimated 45 per cent experience stigma in the workplace because of it. Not only does this take an emotional toll on sufferers, it also significantly burdens employers financially.

What does mental health cost employers?

Mental health issues are estimated to cost the global economy more than that of heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined in the next two decades, suggests research from the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In Australia alone, untreated mental health conditions cost employers $10.9 billion each year.

Despite these astronomical figures, many workplaces are failing to recognise the problem, let alone do anything about it. The same Super Friend report states that 33 per cent of managers do not take action due to being too busy. A further 30 per cent stated that managers lack the skills and training to address mental health and wellbeing issues.

Experts believe that mental health issues tend to warrant longer recovery times, which is why psychological injury claims are more expensive than physical claims. Safework Australia reports that around 7,200 Australians are compensated for work-related mental health issues each year – equating to around 6 per cent of all workers' compensation claims.

They estimate that:

  • 41 per cent of claims are caused by harassment, bullying or exposure to violence.
  • 91 per cent of claims attributed to mental stress.
  • 60 per cent of claims were awarded to workers aged 40 and over.

Super Friend research revealed that 28 per cent of employees believed investing time and resource into mental health and wellbeing would reduce the amount of claims submitted. 

How can you submit a workers' compensation claim for mental health?

As well as collecting sufficient medical evidence to back your claims, an accredited mental health specialist will usually assess individuals to diagnose their symptoms. This will allow them to determine whether the claimant meets the whole person impairment (WPI) threshold, which is set at 15 per cent for psychological injuries.

However, it pays to have a legal team on hand to help when making a workers' compensation claim for mental health. This way, you can be sure your claim has the best chance of success. Get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners today to see how we can help you.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.