This Thursday, October 10, is World Mental Health Day  The 10/10 website is hosting a Promise Wall, where well-known figures and ordinary Australians can make personal promises around mental health awareness, support and self-care. We strongly encourage you to have a squiz and make a promise yourself. It's genuinely inspiring.

In honour of Mental Health Day, our newsletter this week hones in on mental health at work. First up, we republish an article that provides clear advice on how you can better support psychological claimants.

Next we look at the role social connections play in sickness absence. Did you know that teams built on trust and cooperation have less long term sick leave than teams in which suspicion and unfairness abound?

Then we take a quick trip to France (Provence, no less!) to see whether a 5-day intervention based around role play scenarios can reduce job strain in a highly stressful environment: intensive care units in hospitals. This research article is well worth a read, as the intervention has impressive and long-lasting results. 

Finally, we look at a serious source of stress in workers' compensation systems: dispute resolution. Bearing in mind that perceptions of injustice are known to delay recovery and increase mental ill health, what makes dispute resolution outcomes seem fair to workers?

Before you get reading, a quick reminder. The Return to Work: Evidence and Innovation short course is coming up and there are still some spots left. Aimed at researchers, personnel working in Australian workers’ compensation and life insurance systems, healthcare providers, government authorities (such as workers compensation or motor vehicle accident compensation regulators), and occupational rehabilitation providers, as well as others, this course is presented by leading return to work researchers and industry experts who will provide the latest Australian and international return to work research. Day two will involve interactive elements that allow participants to implement knowledge gained from day one to design their own return to work system. 

Happy mental health day, and happy reading!

How to support psychological claimants


 Gabrielle Lis

When psychological claimants feel supported by their employer the RTW outlook is bright. Here we distil the advice of experts into a brief how-to guide to help you capitalise on the support advantage.

We know that only a quarter of psychological claimants in Australia feel supported by their employer. We also know that positive perceptions of employer support are associated with higher rates of RTW, including durable RTW. With clear benefits on offer, what can employers do to demonstrate much-needed support? We’ve developed our own 'in a nutshell' how-to show support guide, which you will find below.

Targeted learning eases job strain in the ICU


 Gabrielle Lis

A 5-day intervention for ICU nurses in France establishes that individual workers can learn to cope better with stressful and demanding work.

Stress is the norm for nurses working in an intensive care unit (ICU). Time pressure, lack of social support, excessive workloads, poor supervision and miscommunication, as well as conflict with physicians, other nurses, patients and their families, are all par for the course. In addition, ICU nurses must cope with the distress caused by patient deaths - their own sadness, as well as that of grieving families.

RTW-land has a social capital


 Gabrielle Lis

Teams built on trust and cooperation - i.e. teams with high social capital - have less long term sick leave than teams in which suspicion and unfairness are the norm.

Social capital is a term for the trust and reciprocity that develop when people treat one another fairly. When social capital is high, you can expect to see people collaborate and take collective action for mutual benefit. When social capital is low, you can expect to see suspicion and self-interest trump cooperation. In the workplace, social capital can accrue between co-workers of equal standing, as well as up and down the organisational hierarchy.

Fair winners, fair losers in dispute resolution


 A. Richey

What makes dispute resolution outcomes seem fair to workers?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) systems are one method of resolving disputes at work. They are often viewed favourably due to the low cost and effectiveness. Common forms of ADR include: “Open door” policy Ombudsperson (mediates but cannot force a decision) Hearing officer (usually makes a final decision) Peer decision committee (often recommends a decision) Outside arbitration (usually makes a final decision) "Just Tell Me! Making Dispute Resolution Systems Fair," is a study led by Donna Maria Blanchero, which investigates perceptions of fairness in alternate dispute system scenarios.

National News

Comcare, it's national mental health week!

Published on October 08, 2019

It's a dismal stat: over the last three years, Comcare has rejected three out of every four claims for psychological injury, but only one in ten physical injury claims. According to an unidentified Comcare spokesman, "Determinations for psychological injury claims are invariably more complex than for physical injury." That may be so: but is it good enough - especially when the investigative methods used to gather evidence on claims sound overbearing and suspect?

An architect reflects on working with severe mental illness

Published on October 08, 2019

Five years ago, architect Kerwin Datu was diagnosed with type 1 bipolar disorder after what he describes as "a period of profound social isolation conducting fieldwork in West Africa". Now he has a message for employers and coworkers: people with severe mental illnesses can and do work, but the usual methods of dealing with them "may need to be set aside in favour of a method focused on building trust and communication over the long term". In short, your EAP, employee wellness program - and quite possibly the worker's treating psychiatrist - aren't going to provide a roadmap or all the necessary supports.

Datu says, "The adaptations that may be needed may not be obvious until months after the workplace finds itself crying out for them." But talking, listening and responding with creativity, sensitivity and flexibility make productive work possible for people with severe mental illness.

World News

Grit, elite athletes and RTW

Published on October 04, 2019

Mental toughness is the capacity to keep performing despite challenges both ordinary and extraordinary. High-performing athletes tend to have it in spades, and it helps them bounce back after injury. So what can such athletes teach us about RTW?

According to sports psychologist Carrie Jackson Cheadle, "...there’s a lot going on during injury beyond the obvious physical problems: you may also be losing your outlet for managing stress, your athletic identity, your social support system, and so on. But...those with superior mental skills—resilience under stress, psychological flexibility—are better able to deal with these challenges, and often come back from injuries both physically and mentally stronger. In fact, there’s even evidence that mental skills like self-monitoring and reflection can affect your likelihood of getting injured in the first place."

For fun, you might like to take her Sisu quiz, which could help you think about your own levels of grit - and ways in which you might support injured workers who veer vulnerable rather than tough.

NSW News

More on the challenging situation in NSW

Published on October 04, 2019

You might hit a paywall when you try to read this article by Tim Boyd for the Australian Financial Review (AFR), which unpacks the woes currently besetting the NSW workers' compensation scheme. 

Here are the highlights low-lights:

  • One industry insider told the AFR: "I have never seen a scheme deteriorate as much in such a short time frame."
  • Employer premiums will rise dramatically if the scheme goes into deficit - and according to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, there's already been at least a 50% rise.
  • icare's chief executive John Nagle acknowledges there have been teething pains, but claims improvements are coming.
  • The Business Council of NSW continues to speak out about poor claims management.

And we continue to wait, with bated breath, for the release of Janet Dore's SIRA report, which will be released later this year...

Featured Resources

October webinar: Managing shoulder injuries and rethinking our approach

- Dr Angus Forbes 22nd October 2019 3pm AEDT. Click the link to register.

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Upcoming Events
Mon 14th Oct 2019, 9:00 am

VCCI, Level 2, 150 Collins Street Melbourne VIC 3000

VWA-endorsed role of a return to work coordinator

The importance of establishing and implementing return to work plans that give the best chance of measuring a worker's compliance, and the consequences should a worker fail to meet their obligations under the Act.

Tue 15th Oct 2019, 12:00 pm

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Brisbane

Injury Prevention and Return to Work Masterclass

Following a successful launch in 2018, the Masterclasses return this year in conjunction with the Conference

Wed 16th Oct 2019, 7:30 am

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Brisbane

Injury Prevention and Return to Work Conference

This year’s program is jam-packed with expert presenters who will discuss, analyse and give their perspectives on key injury prevention and return to work topics.

Thu 17th Oct 2019,

CGU Centre, 181 William Street, Melbourne CBD, VIC, 3001

Mental Health First Aid Training

This course teaches adults how to assist other adults who are experiencing a mental health crisis or developing a mental health problem.

Thu 17th Oct 2019,

The Adelaide Zoo, Figtree Conference Facility, Frome Road, Adelaide SA 5000

2019 SA Safety Symposium

The SIA SA Branch is pleased to announce the 2019 South Australia Safety Symposium: "Major developments in work health and safety regulation and practice"

Wed 23rd Oct 2019, 9:00 am

Monash Public Health and Preventive Medicine, 553 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC 3004

Return to Work: Evidence and Innovation

This 2-day course, led by Monash University’s Insurance Work and Health Group, provides an overview of current evidence and innovation regarding return to work policy and practice.









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