Mental health research broadens the workplace context

Professor Tony LaMontagne is an Australian researcher and academic whose work always deserves careful consideration.  LaMontagne has been mentioned several times in SafetyAtWorkBlog.  The significance of his work is that it is not centred on occupational health and safety but has a major relevance nevertheless.

On the eve of Victoria’s Mental Health Week, LaMontagne has released a report, co-authored with Dr Kristy Sanderson, entitled “Estimating the economic benefits of eliminating job strain as a risk factor for depression”.  A more detailed article on the report will be on this blog in the next few days but there are a couple of notable points in the research.  Firstly, the study places job strain in the broader social context and not limited to the workplace, workers’ compensation, wellness or OHS. In this way, he is promoting a social agenda that has great potential.

Secondly as an academic, LaMontagne is not pushing a wellbeing product so, although his research is partly funded by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, his findings can be seen as being “uncommercial” and, hopefully, independent of commercial consideration.  Such an approach is rare as well-funded, well-coordinated and well-connected depression management firms have largely “cornered the market” in workplace mental health.

A University of Melbourne news article on the report identifies the report’s major conclusions:

  • “Depression caused by stressful working conditions is common and can be prevented.
  • Most of the costs associated with depression among working people affect employers, mainly due to lost productivity and employee replacement costs.
  • Employers would be the main economic beneficiaries of improving workplace conditions, through reduced turnover and improved productivity.
  • There is a need for more research to develop workplace health promotion approaches that address stressful work environments.
  • Effective strategies for the prevention and control of job stress currently exist, but are not widely utilised.
  • Integrated job stress and workplace mental health promotion programs hold the greatest promise to reduce stressful working conditions and address depression and other common mental disorders…”

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

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