Addressing on farm work-related mental health issues

14 July 2023

As we approach farm safety week, we need to make sure we are not just addressing physical wellbeing through safety programs, but mental wellbeing as well.

Did you know that poor mental health safety in Australian businesses leads to a staggering loss of $6 billion annually in productivity?

Mental health safety in the workplace refers to the well-being and mental health of an organisation's employees, which is crucial for fostering a healthy and positive work environment.

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Work-related mental health issues can be triggered by stress, excess time pressures, deadlines, poorly managed organisational change, and a lack of job support. Addressing these issues is crucial for farming businesses due to the significant impact of mental health injuries on employee absenteeism.

Statistics indicate that workers take three times more time off for mental health injuries than for other types of injuries. Workplaces have a duty of care to protect not only the physical safety of employees but also their psychological.

Therefore, it is important to cultivate a mentally positive on-farm work culture that values communication, respect, and collaboration. From the top down, it's important to set clear behavioural expectations and provide constructive feedback to promote a mentally healthy workplace.

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Employers should seek to intervene early to prevent serious psychological harm by providing access to employee assistance programs, health and well-being services, counselling, and resources for stress management.

Mental health advocates such as Rural Alive and Well have played a crucial role in destigmatising seeking help for mental health issues. We must continue to foster an agriculture that encourages employees to prioritise their well-being and seek the support they need.

For more detailed information, I recommend visiting online resources such as the Rural Alive and Well website, WorkSafe Tasmania and other safety authority websites.

These platforms offer a wide range of strategies, tools, and resources to further support your understanding of workplace mental welfare and how you can support mental health on farm.

By prioritising mental health and implementing measures to support employee well-being, businesses can effectively reduce absenteeism and promote a healthier, more productive workforce.

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It is also critically important that this environment also supports and encourages individuals to raise work-related mental issues with their managers. If you know what is causing it, ask to work together to address this.

Talk to others in your workplace for support, such as your health and safety representative or union representative.

Talk to others outside work for support: family and friends, your doctor, or a professional counsellor.

Maintain your personal health as best you can. Exercise regularly, eat healthily, get good sleep, and try not to rely on caffeine, drugs or alcohol to cope.

Remember to do the things you enjoy. It may sound obvious or flippant, but these actions you can take to look after yourself should not be underestimated.

Most importantly, if you want to implement steps to ensure you have a workplace that is looking after mental health contact Rural Alive and Well on 1800 RAW TAS (1800 729 827).