Young workers: Mental health

Work can have both positive and negative effects on mental health

Mental health and work

Leah talks about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on young workers

A mentally healthy workplace

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, includes both physical and mental health.

In a mentally healthy workplace:

  • positive work-related factors are encouraged and promoted, including regular positive communication
  • systems of work are developed where people feel safe and supported to talk about mental health, for example, an open door policy
  • mental health support is available and tailored for individuals and teams
  • 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
  • risks to mental health are identified and managed the same way as physical risks, for example, reporting and responding to mental injuries, taking action to prevent or reduce risk of mental injury.

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 work-related stress. These factors can lead to mental injury, physical injury or both.

What are work related factors?

Research shows that young workers are more at risk of being exposed to work-related hazards that can negatively impact mental health.

It is important to understand what these hazards are so you know when to seek help from your employer to prevent or reduce these from happening, as much as possible.

Psychosocial hazards include:

Impacts of psychosocial hazards on mental health

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

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

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

If you submit a mental injury claim, you will 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 workers with a mental injury access to the right support, quickly and easily, is important for getting on track and back to work.

Support

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 at work.

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.

Support services for young workers

If you are in an emergency or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000. Costs can be covered later by workers compensation if you have developed a mental injury.

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.

Submit general enquiry online