Young workers: Mental health

Work can have both positive and negative effects on mental health

Mental health and work

We all experience varying levels of mental health during our lives.

When we feel mentally healthy, we feel able to go about our everyday life - working, maintaining relationships, doing our usual activities and able to cope with life’s challenges.

When we are struggling or experiencing mental ill-health, these everyday things can seem much harder. Mental ill-health can significantly affect how we feel, think, behave and interact with others.

Work can have both positive and negative impacts on mental health. It can make us feel good about ourselves and give us a sense of purpose. Work can improve and protect our mental health and wellbeing. But sometimes work can negatively affect our mental health and our ability to do our jobs.

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, risks to mental health are managed like physical risks. Other signs of mentally healthy workplaces include:

  • encouraging behaviours that contribute to positive mental health (for example, treating people with fairness and respect, and giving feedback in a constructive way)
  • mental health being everyone's responsibility
  • people feeling safe and supported to talk about mental health
  • everyone can see that supporting mental health is a priority

For more information about mental health in the workplace:

Common causes of workplace mental injury among young workers

Certain work-related factors can increase the risk of work-related stress, which can lead to mental injury, physical injury or both. Workers can be exposed to a combination of these factors at once. Some may always be present, while others occur occasionally.

Research shows that young workers are more at risk of being exposed to the following hazards in the workplace that can negatively impact mental health:

Seeking support

If your work is having a negative impact on your mental health, it's important that you seek support early. Costs can be covered later by workers compensation if you have developed a mental injury.

It's a good idea to start by reaching out to someone you trust, and by making an appointment with a GP (doctor) or your local headspace centre. If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000.

Support services for young workers