No Stress M8 toolbox launched to address mental ill-health in the workplace
A new suite of tools aimed at improving workers’ mental health and well-being in the manufacturing sector targets those who are most likely to have an impact in the workplace: supervisors.
No Stress M8 is a website and toolbox that aims to “stop stress before it happens.”
It lays out the extent of work-related mental and physical injury, the cost to workplaces, common causes of work-related stress and the best actions to take to prevent it.
It also highlights to senior management why they need to foster a ‘thriving, psychosocially safe and productive workplace,’ by empowering supervisors to take a lead on creating stress-free environments and investing more in their workforce mental and physical health.
For example, the cost to the workplace for a worker with mild depression is $2,791 per year. This jumps to $6,309 for those with a combination of anxiety, sadness and depression, and $23,143 for workers with severe depression.
The No Stress M8 online toolbox was co-designed with four defence industry manufacturing workplaces in Victoria following a three-year investigation into the causes of work-related stress, conducted by research consulting firm, Rapid Context
“A key area of focus for workplaces should be on the role of the supervisor. Supervisors are the biggest influencer of worker performance and wellbeing,” concludes the investigation.
Funded under WorkSafe Victoria’s WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund, the toolbox includes download-able posters that can be placed about the workspace, such as ‘How to Have Tough Personal Conversations’, ‘Signs of a Stressed M8’ and what actions supervisors can take to support workers. Another poster shows workers what they can do to manage their stress.
The website espouses the importance of being transparent with workers and explaining exactly why they might want to take part in one of the key activities on No Stress Mate8: a mental health and wellbeing workplace survey.
In the survey, workers are asked to rate their overall physical and mental health. The questions include how often workers exercise for at least 10 minutes, how well they are sleeping and whether they are accessing any workplace health initiatives or programs, like discounted gym memberships. They are asked whether they do anything outside of work to maintain mental health and how comfortable they feel discussing mental wellbeing with family and friends, or with their manager or supervisor. They are also asked questions relating to stress, job security and financial pressures as well as how motivated they feel with their current job.
While the survey is anonymous, workers can see the results and are encouraged to have input into action plans that address wellbeing factors that are a high risk for workers.
Rapid Context’s insights report into Work, Worker & Workplace Wellbeing in Victorian Manufacturing found that workers were predominantly ageing, blue-collar, male-dominated and from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. While physical injury rates were declining, mental injury rates continued to increase.
“On average, mental injury costs 4 x more and lasts 4 x longer than a physical injury,” and that mental ill-health is the number one reason for being absent from work for more than five days.
The insights report states that 76% of workers experience stress at work in the Victorian defence manufacturing sector. The most common mental injuries in the manufacturing sector are:
- Substance abuse 4%
- Depression or an affective disorder 12.5%
- Anxiety 20%
Stigma towards mental health and wellbeing was still a barrier across the manufacturing sector. “Insights gained from the participating workplaces show that workers have no interest in lunchtime lectures, or information packs. Specific tailored or individual programs may be of more benefit to select at risk workers,” states the report.
“The key to reducing stigma is for positive conversations about mental health and wellbeing to become normalised. Supervisors are key to modelling positive health and wellbeing behaviours and supporting workers to do the same.”
Speaking at the No Stress Mate8 launch in Melbourne, Jeremy Forbes, founder of Hope Assistance Local Tradies (HALT), said he was concerned that funds to support workers’ mental health were not getting out into the grassroots.
“Early intervention prevention ain’t happening on the streets,” he said, bemoaning the lack of resources available for workers in their language. Jeremy emphasised the importance of having authentic conversations on the shop floor. “When we talk to the workers, they say, ‘My boss is horrible, he’s a bully, he doesn’t care,’ and this sort of stuff.
“As I tradie myself I know the culture, I live and breathe it.”
Jeremy Forbes from Hope Assistance Local Tradies at the launch of No Stress M8 with researcher Tegan Donald.
“Lived experience is so important. We need to get into the workplaces. You need to have authenticity, talk the language, swear a little bit, and actually go through this with them.
“There needs to be someone getting into those workplaces and pounding the pavement every day.”