Life & Style Weekend - - READ - – Emma Reynolds, news.com.au

It’s a prob­lem we don’t like to talk about, that we find too em­bar­rass­ing and com­pli­cated to con­front head-on — and it’s cost­ing the Aus­tralian econ­omy an in­cred­i­ble $12 bil­lion a year. It is es­ti­mated that be­tween 20 and 30 per cent of the work­force will suf­fer from a se­ri­ous men­tal health prob­lem, such as anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion or ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive dis­or­der, at some point in their work­ing life. Men­tal health has been found to af­fect job in­volve­ment, job sat­is­fac­tion, loy­alty, per­for­mance, ab­sence, turnover and phys­i­cal health. That’s why ex­perts say this na­tional cri­sis needs dras­tic ac­tion. These ill­nesses can gen­er­ate huge costs, first for the em­ployer if the worker is un­able to com­mu­ni­cate their prob­lem and en­gages in “pre­sen­teeism” – turn­ing up but not func­tion­ing prop­erly, or has to take nu­mer­ous sick days or long-term leave. The toll is usu­ally great­est for the worker. Many suf­fer­ers lose their jobs, or find their sick pay quickly runs out. Then there’s the tax­payer, who has to pay ex­tra for goods be­cause of strug­gling em­ploy­ees, and fund men­tal health ser­vices. Pe­dro Diaz, from the Work­place Men­tal Health In­sti­tute, told news.com.au Aus­tralians need to fu­ture-proof their work­load as well as re­la­tion­ships, life­style and finances. “We know an emotional storm is com­ing, it’s just a ques­tion of when. Are we fu­ture-proof­ing busi­ness? That’s what we do with man­agers, they need to be ready,” he says. The re­port also found that it was not the num­ber of hours worked that mat­tered, but whether those hours ac­cord with an in­di­vid­ual’s work pref­er­ences. “If an in­di­vid­ual’s pref­er­ences did not align with their work­ing hours, they re­ported lower lev­els of sat­is­fac­tion and poorer men­tal health than in­di­vid­u­als whose pref­er­ences aligned with their work­ing hours,” Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Health and Wel­fare di­rec­tor Barry San­di­son said.

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