In a recent study by the Education Support Partnership (ESP) charity in the UK, 31 per cent of local teachers admitting to experiencing a mental health problem in the past school year.
More than half of the 1,500 educators in the study identified suffering from insomnia, 51 per cent suffered irritability or mood swings, and 44 per cent experienced tearfulness. Additionally, 41 per cent of the participants reported an increase in forgetfulness and 40 per cent had difficulty in concentrating.
The report says that the research shows “a picture of an increasingly frustrated workforce, struggling to cope.” Consequently, while the Queensland Government hosts Mental Health Week and Safe Work Month annually in October and the QTU conducts WWAM in November, it is important that we not only raise awareness but put in place strategies to support members experiencing mental illness.
For every dollar that is invested in mental health in a workplace, there is a $2.30 return. It is so important that when we think of workplace health and safety, we also think about our psychological wellbeing and mental health. While only six per cent of claims associated with workplace injury are for psychological injuries, these claims are typically more difficult to manage, result in more time off work and have poorer return-to-work outcomes when compared to physical injuries.
Injury prevention is better than cure, and we need to keep the conversation going. Members are encouraged to participate in the many activities, including accessing Workplace Health and Safety’s free mentally healthy workshops around the state.
WWAM is a great opportunity to take steps to ensure that you work in a healthy environment and return home safe. By considering our physical and mental health needs in the workplace, we can provide positive experiences for ourselves, our colleagues and the students we teach.
Everyone has the right to return home in the condition that they started the work day – we need to take the time to consider any risks to our physical and mental health and safety and work together to mitigate them.
For more, visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/mentally-healthy-workplaces/toolkit
By Kate Ruttiman, Deputy General Secretary (Member Services)