Report cites 'troubling decline in mental health' of employees

Serious compensation claims for mental health cases surge in 2021-22

Report cites 'troubling decline in mental health' of employees

Serious workers' compensation claims for mental health conditions saw a nearly 40% increase in 2021-22, according to the latest analysis from Safe Work Australia.

The Psychological health and safety in the workplace report found that mental health conditions accounted for nine per cent of all serious workers' compensation claims for 2021-22.

This is equivalent to around 11,700 compensation claims, a 36.9% increase since 2017-18 data, according to the report.

"There may be a number of causes behind the increase in claims and it is possible that destigmatisation and increased awareness of mental health conditions may be a contributor," the report said.

The health care and social assistance industry also logged the highest number of serious claims for work-related mental health conditions over the last five years.

The public administration and safety came in second, followed by the education and training industry, according to the report.

Other psychological health data

Meanwhile, the median compensation paid for mental health conditions in 2020-21 was $58,615 per serious claim, according to the report.

This is more than three times greater than the $15,743 per serious claim for physical injuries and illnesses.

Safe Work Australia also found that the median time lost for mental health conditions was 34.2 working weeks per serious claim, more than four times greater than the eight working weeks per serious claim for all physical injuries and illnesses.

'Troubling decline in mental health'

Chris Gambian, Australians for Mental Health executive director, said the report indicates a "troubling decline in the mental health" of employees.

"It's another alarm signalling the mental health crisis we are in," Gambian said in a statement.

"We need a comprehensive national strategy to treat psychosocial hazards and risks in the workplace with the same seriousness as physical hazards and risks."

Safe Work's report was sourced from three main data sources, including the Safe Work Australia National Dataset for Compensation-based Statistics, the National Return to Work Survey, and the People at Work risk assessment survey.

"The data gives insights that can help governments, researchers, industry and worker representatives to address current and future challenges in psychological health and safety," Safe Work Australia CEO Marie Boland in a statement.

"Proactively managing psychosocial hazards at work not only protects workers, it also benefits businesses by improving organisational performance and productivity."

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