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Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Workplace


Mental illness affects approximately one in five Australians every year, yet the misunderstandings and prejudice that surround it can prevent people from seeking the help they need1. World Mental Health Day is a day dedicated to ending the stigma around mental illness. On October 10 you can help by making a mental health promise2 by attending an event or even by hosting your own3.

Mental illness can affect people anywhere and it can start in the workplace. It is important to be aware of psychological injuries – what they are and what you can do if you’ve sustained one at work.

What is a psychological injury?

Sally Cutts, a psychologist with TMS Consulting, says there is no Australia-wide legal definition of a psychological injury4. Return to Work adds that the laws covering psychological injury at work depend on which state or territory you’re in and whether or not you’re a government employee5.

Cutts emphasises that a psychological injury is not simply stress at work but stress to the point of a psychological disorder such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

A psychological injury can be caused by a number of factors ranging from unsafe machinery and workplace accidents to high job expectations and a lack of support from managers.

What should I do if I’ve sustained a psychological injury at work?

If you’ve sustained a psychological injury at work, you may be able to make a worker’s compensation claim. For more information contact Shine Lawyers: https://www.shine.com.au/service/workers-compensation/psychological-injury-lawyers.

When am I eligible for compensation?

WorkCover Queensland says that according to the Worker’s Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 20036, “an injury is a personal injury arising out of, or in the course of, employment if for a psychiatric or psychological disorder—the employment is the major significant contributing factor to the injury”7.

This does not include “reasonable action taken in a reasonable way” by the employer such as action to demote, discipline or dismiss a worker. Likewise, Sally Cutts says that in NSW “claims are not payable if the psychological injury was caused by the employer’s reasonable action regarding performance management decisions”. For example, an employee’s dissatisfaction with a decision not to be promoted8.

For more information WorkCover has put together a detailed list of frequently asked questions: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/rehab-and-claims/injuries-at-work/what-happens-after-a-claim-is-made/psychological-or-psychiatric-injury/psychological-or-psychiatric-injury-claims-faqs.

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is an initiative of the World Federation For Mental Health9 aimed at raising awareness of mental health around the globe. This year’s theme is ‘Do You See What I See?’ and the aim is to challenge people’s perceptions of mental health in Australia and encourage the public to look at mental health in a more positive light.

For further information and to make your own mental health promise, visit their official website: https://1010.org.au.

Seek Help

If you need somebody to talk to:

  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
  • SANE Australia: 1800 18 7263

Contact Us

If you’re suffering from a psychological condition or injury that occurred at work, Shine Lawyers can help. Our lawyers are experts on psychological injury compensation claims and worker’s compensation legislation. To find out more visit https://www.shine.com.au/service/workers-compensation/psychological-injury-lawyers.

  1. https://1010.org.au
  2. https://1010.org.au
  3. https://1010.org.au/find-events
  4. https://www.hcamag.com/hr-news/what-is-the-legal-definition-of-a-psychological-injury-218081.aspx
  5. http://returntowork.workplace-mentalhealth.net.au/psychological-injury
  6. https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2003-027
  7. https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/rehab-and-claims/injuries-at-work/what-happens-after-a-claim-is-made/psychological-or-psychiatric-injury
  8. https://www.hcamag.com/hr-news/what-is-the-legal-definition-of-a-psychological-injury-218081.aspx
  9. https://wfmh.global

Written by Shine Lawyers on October 10, 2018. Last modified: October 15, 2018.

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