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Recognise and respond to signs of mental ill health – the workplace as a first responder

Health status can change over time and we need to be able to recognise and respond to signs of mental ill health or when someone is not ok. This means knowing what to do when we are worried.

Recognising when someone may be unwell and offering support and assistance can help workers to manage work demands. Early intervention may help to prevent the worker from becoming ill, taking long term sick leave or needing to submit a workers compensation claim.

We are not expected to diagnose mental health conditions. We need to recognise and respond to early signs of mental ill health which can include changes in behaviour, absenteeism or a decline in performance. We need to know how to talk about mental health and ask ‘RUOK’.

We need to be able to provide support to the worker at work. Sometimes a colleague may require professional help and we can help to facilitate this – read more in recognising when professional help is needed. It’s important to look after yourself too.

Resources

We all have a responsibility under the Work Health Safety Act 2011 to look after the physical and psychological health and safety of our workers. It can be challenging for managers and colleagues to understand mental health conditions, how mental ill health can affect a worker and how to respond.

The Guide – Working Together: Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing at Work can help managers and workers know how to talk about mental health and recognise and respond to early warning signs:

Download our infographic for your workplace on recognising and responding to early warning signs:

Learn more about early intervention to prevent psychological injury in the guide for workers, managers, human resource and rehabilitation case managers and approved rehabilitation providers.

Education and training programs

Education and training programs can assist your organisation, workers and managers to recognise and respond to mental ill health at work.

Comcare’s Mental Health and Wellbeing at Work training program is delivered by Communicorp Group. Contact Comcare’s education team for more information. Comcare training is also available on the WHS Act, SRC Act and Preventing psychological injury through leadership.Other education programs includeMental Health First Aid,beyondblue’s National Workplace ProgramandSane Australia’s Mindful Employer Program.

Page last updated: 13 Apr 2016