WorkSafe's first Mental Health Strategy 2021 to 2024 (the strategy) is a significant milestone in our commitment to prevent workplace mental injuries and to better protect workers with a mental injury.
The strategy is underpinned by the principles of protecting workers and supporting the needs of employers, it outlines objectives, focus areas and priority groups to engage with over the next three years.
Mental health is a growing challenge in our workplaces. With the adult population spending about a third of their life at work, workplaces play a fundamental role in protecting, improving and supporting the mental health of Victorians.
A summary of the strategy is available:
Why the strategy is needed
The proportion of mental injury claims has grown significantly over time, from around nine per cent for the injury period prior to 2009, to 11 per cent for the injury periods from 2009 to 2014, and is currently 13 per cent.
Mental injury claims are increasing and in the next 10 years are expected to grow to 33 percent of workers' compensation claims.
The strategy also aligns with WorkSafe's Strategic Plan 2021 to 2024, prioritising the need to address the challenges of continued growth in primary and secondary mental injures in Victorian workplaces.
How the strategy works
The strategy will drive change for workers who need it most by targeting high risk groups.
Over the next three years the strategy provides a plan for WorkSafe to support employers to reduce workplace harm and improved outcomes for injured workers.
The first priority of the strategy is to implement the Action Plan 2021 to 2022 (the plan). The plan will also form the first task of the strategy and through this work, new and existing mental health programs will be developed and refined to align with the focus areas and to target priority groups.
Objectives of the strategy
The strategy details key priorities and actions that WorkSafe will focus on to achieve the following three objectives:
- prevent mental injury and improve the mental health of Victorian workers
- ensure all Victorian workers with a mental injury are protected and have access to support
- improve capability to create positive, mentally healthy workplaces
Focus areas in the strategy
WorkSafe has identified five focus areas that set the direction for achieving the strategy's objectives. Each focus are has medium to long-term actions that WorkSafe will undertake to address the underlying causes of poor mental health across all workplaces.
The focus areas include:
- awareness, education and training
- building evidence base
- fostering organisation change
- supporting innovation
- compliance and enforcement
Workers in high risk segments will be prioritised for targeted intervention. These are:
- heath care and social assistance
- public administration and safety
- education and training
- industries in transition
- small business
- young workers
- ageing workers
- frontline workers
Some workplaces, particularly small businesses, may have limited awareness, capacity or capability to identify, assess and control risk to mental health. Responses to workplace mental health have traditionally focused on supporting individual workers, without addressing underlying psychosocial hazards that may be negatively impacting on workers' mental health.
Businesses will be supported by WorkSafe to actively take steps to reduce the likelihood of injury, by taking up prevention-based behaviours and other improvements.
WorkSafe's partners and stakeholders will play an important part in supporting small businesses.
What employers can do to incorporate the strategy
Employers have a critical role in creating mentally healthy workplaces. As well as legal duties for employers to provide mentally health workplaces, it’s also good for business.
Employers can do a lot to incorporate the strategy in their business and are encouraged to share the strategy with key business areas and relevant workers.
Employers who require further information are encouraged to find out more about workplace mental injury prevention and support through the related information below or by contacting a WorkSafe advisor.