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“Despite 20% of Australians experiencing mental illness, nearly 50% of senior managers believe all of their workers have good mental health.”¹

At KINNECT we create health certainty for your workforce. However, it is important to note that we don’t focus solely on a worker’s physical wellbeing. In the Work Health and Safety Act, the word health relates to both a worker’s physical and psychological health. For this reason, we employ Psychologists registered with AHPRA. Our Psychologists’ areas of interest include traumatic stress, vocational services, emotion regulation, HR management, neurobiology, psychoeducation, somatic psychology and stress management.

An employee’s physical and psychological health can be impacted by a variety of factors that have may trigger a stress response. These factors can include anything from a poorly managed work environment to excessive work pressure or workplace bullying and harassment. Job stress is not an injury or illness, however if the stress level is prolonged it may lead to psychological injury. Furthermore, the duration and frequency of job stress has been proven to increase sick leave, task errors, staff turnover and withdrawal. This can lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety in the long term for some cases.

All employees are responsible for their own and others’ health and safety based on predefined policies. It is the employer’s duty to ensure any risks that could result in physical or psychological harm are managed including by:

  • Ensuring the work environment is free of risk to employee health and safety
  • Providing employees with safe systems of work
  • Monitoring employee health and workplace conditions
  • Consulting with employees on health and safety matters
  • Providing information and instruction to enable workers to safely perform their role
  • Defining policies that avoid role conflict and prevent bullying behaviour

What are the signs of psychological injury?

There are a variety of early warning signs that you, as an employer, can look out for in your workplace. These warning signs can be behavioural, cognitive or emotional and include:

  • Higher rate of absenteeism
  • Behavioural changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low morale
  • Lack of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor work performance and difficulty managing tasks
  • Increased workplace conflict
  • Excessive worrying and panic attacks
  • Overly emotional reactions in daily life

What can I do if an employee is not coping?

It is important to provide early intervention to employees who are exhibiting early warning signs of psychological injury. Early intervention can prevent the situation from worsening and reduce sick leave or the need to submit a workers compensation claim.

Some strategies for supporting an employee who is not coping include making initial contact, listening with empathy and offering genuine support. Further than this, early intervention also includes developing a psychological injury management process.

How can KINNECT help?

KINNECT have AHPRA registered Psychologists who provide Adjustment to Injury Counselling services. Our service centres around an evidence-based framework with the focus of assisting workers overcome a variety of psychological barriers. When conducted concurrently with a Return to Work Plan, KINNECT’s Adjustment to Injury Counselling can facilitate a timely and durable work outcome. We do this through implementing proactive self-management techniques to provide the worker with coping strategies to achieve positive mental health.

An initial consultation with one of KINNECT’s Psychologists includes an assessment to identify barriers potentially impacting on a successful work outcome. This consultation will also include the development of a goal oriented management plan. Subsequent counselling sessions with the worker provide progress updates and self-management and coping strategies to address any psychological barriers.

KINNECT’s Adjustment to Injury Counselling benefits both employee and employer when it results in sustainable work outcomes and reduced compensation costs. Research indicates that $6.5 billion dollars is lost each year due to failing to provide early intervention for at risk employees. Access to early intervention injury counselling empowers individuals to take control and effectively respond to the stresses of life.

References

  1. https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/1-mental-health-workplace
  2. https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/system/files/documents/1702/preventing-psychological-injury-under-whs-laws.pdf
  3. https://www.comcare.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/158815/04052_CMG_Barriers_to_RTW_v7.pdf
  4. http://www.comcare.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/41352/First_to_Action_EI_-_Updated_7.pdf
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