The psychosocial message may be getting through

Recent Australian insurer Allianz released survey data that revealed:

“….half of surveyed Australian employees claim they feel fatigued and burnt out”.

This report generated a recent article (paywalled) in the Australian Financial Review (AFR), which included some important comments from Dr Rebecca Michalak. Her comments are an important introduction to a week that includes SafetyAtWorkBlog’s exclusive reporting on The Psych Health & Safety Conference.

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Evaluating the effectiveness of OHS interventions and programs

Last month, an extraordinary document appeared – “Evaluating OH&S Interventions: A WorkSafe Victoria Intervention Evaluation Framework 2023 (2nd Ed.).” Its extraordinariness comes from its appearance with no fanfare or promotion; it is a second edition of something published in 2004 (which I cannot recollect), it has authoritative authors, and it is a document many have been asking for.

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New data on workplace suicides should change the mental health at work discussion

“No one should die at work” is a common statement at Worker Memorial Services every year. Occupational health and safety (OHS), in particular, uses death as a starting point for reflection and sometimes action. Workplace death is a recognised worst-case scenario and has long been established as a benchmark for measuring OHS progress.

[This article discusses workplace suicides]

There is increased interest in psychosocial hazards at work with the worthy goal of preventing these hazards. However, psychosocial deaths such as those by suicide do not hold the same place or role as “traditional” physical workplace deaths. They are rarely the launching pad for drastic change in our systems of business, but that is starting to change if new data and analysis are any indication.

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WHO says burnout is occupational, but at least one psychologist says WHO is wrong

The cover story of the February 2024 edition of Psychology Today is less a story than a collection of short pieces on mental health and burnout. This blog may seem unfairly critical of much of the psychological discussion on burnout but this is largely because the World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined burnout as an occupational phenomenon and “is not classified as a medical condition”. The popular literature on mental health and its workplace context almost entirely overlooks these two elements – a literature that is often the first destination for people trying to understand their workplace distress. Sometimes, popular literature is unhelpful.

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World Day of Health and Safety – Climate Change

The need for occupational health and safety (OHS) to adapt to the changing (deteriorating) global climate has long been discussed. This discussion may spike later this month with this year’s World Day of Health and Safety theme, the somewhat fatalistic “Ensuring safety and health at work in a changing climate“. Rather than look closely at the ILO global report on this issue, clearer discussion may be found in the latest edition of HesaMag with its special report on “Workers and the climate challenge” from the European Trade Union Institute.

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UK’s fit note initiative is a short-term attempt at a fix

On April 19 2024, United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a major speech about welfare reform and mental health. The UK has a strong tradition of public health support through its National Health Service, which always seems to be underfunded and under-resourced but holds huge cultural and medical significance in the community. Mental ill-health has increased enormously over the last decade, as it has in countries like Australia, which is currently undergoing significant industrial relations reforms. However, what is missing from the PM’s speech and some of the subsequent analysis is that work is controlled by employers, so what does PM Sunak expect employers to do to help?

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The occupational context of burnout is largely missed in this new book about exhaustion

Burnout continues to have its moment in the sun. It is the cover story of the February 2024 edition of Psychology Today and is a major theme in a new book about exhaustion. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration of burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” is downplayed or ignored in both publications.

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