Young workers: Mental health and work

Work can have both positive and negative effects on mental health.


Key points

  • In a mentally healthy workplace:
    • psychosocial hazards are treated the same way as physical hazards
    • communication is encouraged
    • employees are consulted
    • mental health support is available
  • Work-related mental injury can be caused by many factors, such as work-related violence, work-related gendered violence, workplace bullying and work-related stress and fatigue.
  • Psychosocial hazards can negatively impact mental health in many ways including increasing the risk of stress, burnout, anxiety and depression.
  • If work is having an impact on your mental health, there are ways to get support.

It is your employer's duty to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable.

This includes both physical and mental health.

'Reasonably practicable' simply means doing everything that is reasonably possible. It’s what a reasonable person in the same position would do.

A mentally healthy workplace

Signs of a mentally healthy workplace:

  • Psychosocial hazards are identified and associated risks are controlled in the same way as physical risks. For example, taking action to eliminate or reduce the risk of mental injury.
  • Systems of work are in place to support employees to do their work safely.
  • Positive communication is encouraged and people feel safe and supported to talk about mental health. For example, an open door policy.
  • Workload is manageable and employees have appropriate control over how they do their work. Employees are consulted about decisions affecting their work.
  • There is role clarity — employees know what they’re expected to do and who to report to.
  • Mental health support is available and tailored for individuals.

More information about mental health in the workplace is available at Mental health: Safety basics.

Common causes of workplace mental injury among young workers

Psychosocial hazards are factors in the design or management of work that can increase the risk of harm. If psychosocial hazards are not managed, they can lead to mental injury, physical injury or both.

Research shows that young workers are more at risk of being exposed to psychosocial hazards.

It is important to understand what these hazards are so you know when to seek help from your employer to eliminate or reduce them, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Impacts of psychosocial hazards on mental health

Exposure to psychosocial hazards can negatively impact mental health. This can lead to

  • loss of confidence or withdrawal
  • feelings of isolation
  • burn out
  • substance use or abuse
  • suicidal thoughts and behaviours
  • social isolation, family dislocation
  • stress
  • financial loss or economic disadvantage
  • mental injury such as anxiety or depression
  • physical injuries as a result of assault

If you develop a mental injury as a result of work, you may be entitled to make a claim for support and compensation from WorkSafe.

If you submit a mental injury claim, you may be able to access early treatment and support through provisional payments. Provisional payments aim to support a positive return to work journey, regardless of the claim outcome. Providing the right support, quickly and easily, is important for getting on track and back to work.


If your work is having a negative impact on your mental health, it's important to speak up and seek support early. Start by reaching out to someone you trust, such as a friend, co-worker, parent or guardian, supervisor or health and safety representative (HSR) at work.

Your employer may also have an employee assistance program where you can access confidential support. If you are unsure if your employer provides this, you can ask your manager, HSR or human resources department.

You can also make an appointment with a doctor or contact your local Headspace, Beyond Blue, Kids Helpline or Lifeline for help. The Young Workers Centre also offers advice and help with any questions you may have.

If you are in an emergency or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000.

Contact WorkSafe for advice or to report an incident

Contact the WorkSafe advisory service on 1800 136 089 between 7.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday. You don't have to give your name, you can be anonymous.

To report an emergency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week call 13 23 60.

Online enquiries

General queries can be submitted online about health and safety, publications, licensing and workers compensation.

Please don't use this email form to report an incident.

This page references