Work stress the top reason Tasmanians access employee assistance programs

For every $1 an organisation invests into workplace mental health they can receive a $2.30 return, through improved productivity and reduced claims, according to University of Tasmanian researchers.

Associate Professor Angela Martin said workplaces should look for psychological hazards the same way they look for physical ones.

“We have had a lot of interest in the strategies we have recommended from industry and there is movement towards the development of a national framework for mentally healthy workplaces,” she said.

Newport and Wildman Mediators and Counsellors director Tony Newport said many Tasmanian workplaces supported employees and their families with mental health counselling through their employee assistance programs.

“As one of a number of EAP providers in the state, we can attest that the numbers do not lie. In the decade commencing January 2007 and ending December 2016, 7,717 people attended our EAP counselling service for a total number of 17,030 sessions for the period,” he said.

“These figures do not include mediation, critical incident debriefing, education and training.”’

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The top reasons for accessing an EAP provider are work stress, family, depression, anxiety and grief.

EAP providers were grateful for services such as Beyond Blue, RUOK and Speak Up Stay Chatty, Mr Newport said.

“Our role nonetheless is to stay relevant and accessible 365 days a year,” he said.

“We would just like to say that in Mental Health Week any reminder to employees that they may possibly be entitled to a number of free EAP counselling sessions is worthwhile.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 3.2 million Australians accessed mental health related treatments in 2011.

About one in six women and one in nine men sought treatment for mental health issues.

For those aged over 75-years almost one in three people accessed mental health related medication.

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