Why talk to your employer about mental health?

Monday 11 March 2019
Linda Hanley

Allianz Australia recently revealed that a staggering 93% of full-time working Australians are uncomfortable discussing or disclosing their mental health condition with their manager.

In their paper, “Awareness into action: A holistic approach to cultivating mentally healthy workplaces in Australia”, they described how working Australians would rather lie when taking a sick day, than admit that they’re taking the day off because of the status of their mental health.

Some of the reasons provided were:

  • 90% of the employees were concerned about the stigma associated with having a mental illness.
  • 78% of the employees were concerned about losing their job due to their mental health.
  • 84% of the employees were concerned that their mental health issues would not be taken as seriously as a physical illness.

Yet, the paper revealed that nearly 40% of all of Allianz Australia’s WorkCover compensation claims were in relation to mental health-related conditions and symptoms.

The statistics from Allianz around the unwillingness of Australian workers in disclosing mental health matters is incredibly alarming from a WorkCover lawyer’s perspective.  Particularly, in circumstances where the mental health condition is related to work.

Unlike physical injury WorkCover claims, claims for psychological injuries are more likely to be rejected. 

“In contrast to suffering from an amputated arm, demonstrating that a psychological injury was caused by reason of work and that your work has caused your psychological injury is hard,” commented Linda Hanley from Adviceline Injury Lawyers.

“Accordingly, when my clients are being psychologically impacted by their workplace, whether it be due to workplace stress or workplace bullying or harassment, I always encourage my clients to notify their managers of these issues – whether it be orally or in writing.”

Ms Hanley says that early reporting and recording of stress and mental health/ harassment concerns with an employer is critical in a WorkCover claim.

“Everything that is articulated or documented to a manager can later be used as evidence that your employer was aware of your mental health condition and should have done something in response to your condition,” said Ms Hanley.

“In addition to notifying your manager, I always advise my clients to regularly discuss how their work is impacting their mental health condition with their health professionals.  Again, the clinical records of these health professionals can later be used as evidence to demonstrate the connection between an injured worker’s mental health condition and work.”

If you have suffered a mental health condition by reason of your work and would like further advice on next steps in a WorkCover claim, please contact Adviceline Injury Lawyers on (03) 9321 9988 for further advice.

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