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Mental health injuries account for 15% of all claims

Submitted on Friday, 17th February 2017

Latest statistics from the Victorian WorkCover Authority indicate that mental health injuries currently account for 15% of all claims made under the Victorian workers compensation system. In addition to this more common law cases are arising where employees sue their employers for damages associated with failing to protect their mental health.

In a case determined on February 8th, a major employer that was aware of a worker's psychiatric vulnerability, but left her under the supervision of an abrasive manager, has been ordered to pay her $625,345.  

The Victorian Supreme Court Justice John Dixon found the Victorian Department of Human Services breached its duty of care by failing to act on the worker's complaints and take reasonable steps to ameliorate the risk of her psychiatric injury, including:

  • undertaking a formal investigation into the circumstances giving rise to the friction between the worker and her team leader;
  • counselling the worker and the team leader about their behaviour towards each other and arranging formal mediation;
  • training and directing the team leader on how to deal with the worker's mental health concerns, and on the importance of adopting a caring and supportive approach;
  • implementing an early-intervention plan for occupational stress overseen by designated staff; and
  • moving the worker to the supervision of a different team leader.

The need to manage mental health in the workplace is increasingly obvious, not only to protect your best assets from mental harm but also to avoid financial damage to your business.

The Victorian Chamber’s Mental Health Check will provide insights into the mental health risks that exist in your business and assist you in taking steps to reduce these risks. Our Mental Health First Aid course will teach you how to recognise the symptoms of common mental health problems and how to provide the initial help for those developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. Completion of an online assessment will allow those trained to become accredited Mental Health First Aid Officers. We can even train your team in all they need to know about mental health in the workplace from a managerial perspective. Contact us today on 03 8662 5333 or to talk through your options for developing a mentally healthy workplace.


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