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Unmasking the impacts of COVID-19 on workplace mental health

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Thursday, 6 May, 2021 - 12:00
Category: 
Industry news
Location: 
New South Wales

A new SafeWork NSW study has found that 38 per cent of supervisors and 27 per cent of workers reported feeling mentally unwell in the last 12 months, and of those, 53 per cent and 45 per cent respectively said the negative change in their mental health was directly brought on by COVID-19.

The study also concluded that over the past 12 months 27 per cent of employers felt isolated, 32 per cent of supervisors reported being stressed or constantly under pressure and 27 per cent of workers were being given too much work.

The SafeWork NSW study, which took in more than 4000 employers and 8000 employees across the state, found that although many businesses are affected by COVID-19, there has been an improvement in workplace mental health overall.

Since 2017 an additional 12.5 per cent of NSW businesses reported having taken effective action to create mentally healthy workplaces.

“Almost overnight we were confronted with a level of upheaval and workplace disruption that we have never had to face before,” said NSW Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson.

“Anecdotally, we all heard how factors such as mandatory lockdowns and isolation, the anxiety of getting sick, potential loss of income and fear of what the future may hold, were having a big impact on workers’ mental health.”

The study, commissioned to understand the mid-point performance of the NSW Government’s Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy 2018-2022, included questions to determine the extent to what we were hearing was accurate and how the NSW Government could use these findings to refresh our approach to improving mental health in the workplace.

Minister Taylor said the study underlined the importance of employers putting the mental health and wellbeing of staff at the top of their agendas.