RUOK? Day is held in September each year in Australia. The workplace suicide awareness campaign has been very successful, but over time, I have observed a decline in effectiveness, certainly at the local communication level. It may be a victim of its own success as almost all awareness campaigns struggle to maintain their original freshness. Perhaps it is time for a change. Perhaps that change is being forced upon us.
Ten years ago, I was enlightened by a presentation on masculinity and occupational health and safety (OHS) by Dean Laplonge at a safety conference in Canberra. He has continued researching that interconnection, and visiting WA and recently released his latest report written for WorkSafe WA after a series of “roadshows”.
After years of scandals in what has been described as the epitome of toxic masculinity, the West Australian mining industry claims to have changed its culture and created a psychologically safer work environment. Culture-As-Usual was not an option after multiple exposures of work-related suicides, sexual assaults, and harassment uncovered by independent and parliamentary inquiries. Laplonge revisited Western Australia and reported on the progress.
Gabrielle Carlton, Director & Principal Consultant at Resylience, recently published an interesting article about her experience with a former Australian soldier who was struggling with work-related mental ill-health. The mental health of defence personnel is a hugely important and complex situation that questions the core function of defence and our expectations of defence personnel. However, some of her comments on psychosocial health in the article’s conclusion caught most of my attention.
Seminars on workplace mental health must always offer solutions and not only (always) the solution that the host wants to promote. Occupational health and safety (OHS) needs to be more altruistic (Yes, it may be hypocrisy from a subscription blog). Recently I spoke on the issue of psychosocial hazards at work and offered this slide on “What can be done?” [Note: This article discusses suicide]Continue reading “What to do about workplace mental health? Talk, Listen, Examine”
[This article discusses suicide.]
The tide seems to be turning in approaches to the prevention of suicides in Australia. Recently the CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia, Nieves Murray, concluded a radio interview with some advice that relates directly to workplace suicides.
This is the first of, hopefully, many articles about what some of the weekend newspapers and media say about issues related to occupy national health and safety (OHS). It will not be comprehensive but short takes on what I see in the newspapers.
[Note, the article below mentions suicide and workplace bullying]
Workload and Suicide
It has been a year since an employee of the Victorian Building Authority, Rob Karkut, died by suicide. According to The Age (May 13, 2023, [paywalled] his suicide occurred:
“…amid intense pressure from the authority’s managers to meet ambitious inspection targets. A litany of failings within the organisation have been exposed since his death.”
Psychological health in the workplace seems to be a recent phenomenon because various Australian jurisdictions are strengthening prevention and management strategies through legislative amendments. This is supported by the World Health Organization’s definition of burnout as an occupational phenomenon. But psychological or psychosocial health and safety at work was a concern last century. In fact, The Australian Psychological Society conducted the First National Conference on Occupational Stress in June 1994, and the book, edited by the late Dr Peter Cotton, based on the papers and presentations from the conference, remains remarkably topical and absent of the well-being language and spin that we have been exposed to since.