The cost of mental health in the workplace

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workplace_bullyingA mentally healthy workplace is good for business. Research shows it leads to less absenteeism, more-engaged workers, better productivity and morale. It reduces the chances of a company being hit with workplace disability claims and fines for breaches of health and safety laws.

There is a big price tag when employers ignore and fail to manage mental health conditions in the workplace. Price Waterhouse Coopers has estimated it costs business in Australia alone a whopping $A10.9 billion a year as reported by Leon Gettler.

Research conducted for Beyond Blue has found more than six million working days are lost per year as a result of one mental illness alone – depression – and each worker whose depression is untreated costs their employer $A9660.

The stats show people experiencing symptoms of depression can be away from work more often than those with ulcers, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, back problems, lung problems or gastrointestinal disorders.

Apart from depression, the other most common mental health issues are anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), alcoholism, drug use disorder and bipolar disorder.

All this inevitably spills over into the workplace.

Stress-related physical conditions such as sleeping disorders and low-resistance to infections can result in an increase in overall sickness absence. Work-related stress and poor mental health are major reasons not only for absenteeism but also for occupational disability and for workers seeking early retirement.

A recent Harvard study examining the financial impact of 25 chronic physical and mental health problems found workers with depression reported the equivalent of 27 lost work days per year. Other research has found employees with depression are more likely than others to lose and change jobs frequently.

According to Comcare, one in five people in Australia will experience some form of mental illness, like depression, at some stage of their lives. As many of us spend at least nine hours a day at work, there has to be some spill over.

That means the workplace can heavily influence the health of workers and therefore the community. Psychologically healthy workplaces are high functioning and productive zones.

Comcare says the workplace can trigger or worsen mental health conditions.

Psychologist Dean Janover says all companies need to have regular mental health audits and to develop policies to deal with the issue.

“They need to have a plan in place,’’ he says. “They need to have a look at the general health of their workforce, and [ask], what are the kinds of risks impacting on their employees’ mental health?”

“They need to develop policies around how they are going to address each of those areas. They need to educate their staff and the people who manage them. They need to put the proper support processes in place, before they pick up the danger signs.”

“If they don’t have these systems in place, they might not be as well-placed to manage these kinds of mental health issues.” To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

Non-invasive treatment for depression and bipolar disorder investigated at Black Dog Institute

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depression mental healthA new, non-invasive non-medication treatment for depression including bipolar disorder is now being trialled at the Black Dog Institute, University of NSW in Sydney.

The Sydney Neurostimulation Centre led by Professor Colleen Loo is investigating whether transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) could be a treatment for depression and a potential alternative to medication and electroconvulsive therapy.

TDCS is a very mild form of brain stimulation. The stimulation is painless and is given when a person is fully awake and alert with the stimulation session lasting 30 minutes.

It is thought that tDCS works by modifying and correcting brain activity levels, e.g., increase brain activation in areas that are underactive or reduce brain activation in areas that are overactive.

The effects of tDCS on mood have been reported since the 1960’s and 70’s.

Recently, a large research trial in Sydney at the Black Dog Institute, which compared tDCS with a placebo, provided further evidence that it has antidepressant effects.

You might be eligible for this new clinical trial if you are:

  • aged over 18 and have been experiencing feelings of depression for at least 4 weeks prior to the study, and
  • able to commit to the trial for at least 4 weeks with the option of additional further treatment, attending usually for 40 minutes every weekday.
  • can attend the Black Dog Institute in Randwick for 1 hour every weekday for 4 weeks with the option of additional further treatment

Please note there may be a number of other medical conditions that may mean you are not eligible. Please discuss with the clinical trial medical staff.  

This research study has been approved by the relevant Government health authorities, and medical Ethics Committees.

For more information contact the study coordinator at the Black Dog Institute click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

QLD police working to remove stigma for officers suffering mental health issues

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qld police stigmaSenior Queensland police managers are hoping to break down the stigma of mental ill-health by encouraging more open discussion among officers.

First responders like police are over-represented when it comes to work-related trauma and suicide.

Three serving Queensland police officers have taken their own lives in the last year.

The latest data from Beyondblue found 110 first responders took their own lives between 2000–2012 and 62 were police officers.

Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd says he recently lost a close colleague to suicide, as reported by ABC News.

“That of course is the tragic end … you can’t bring them back,” he said.

“What I also am aware of is the impact of those people who quietly and silently deal with mental health issues that don’t end up in the catastrophic end but it is in their mind often.”

He said the main role for management was to build resilience in staff.

“We can’t prevent the stressful and confronting nature of what we as police face but what we can do is spend some time building up a healthy resilience on how best to deal with that,” he said.

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) currently offers professional counselling to staff in addition to a peer-to-peer support network.

But in the last year, it also added an additional confidential phone service for those who want anonymous assistance.

Now, management is actively encouraging those who are feeling the pressure to speak up.

Repeated exposure to trauma is often part of the job.

Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the new approach by QPS management was a fundamental shift and was a positive reflection of what was happening in the broader community.

“We’re dealing with decades of cultures in first-responder industries and agencies of ‘suck it up sweetheart’,” she said.

“Police, ambulance, SES and firies all around the country are actually, at a top leadership level, starting to sit up and talk about this stuff and take notice.”

While data is kept about serving personnel, little is known about those who suffer from mental ill-health once they leave.

Beyondblue is about to launch the first nationwide survey to collect that crucial information.

In March it also launched a Good Practice Framework for first-responder agencies. To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

Keep people at the heart of mental health

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headspace 2Services such as headspace are vital to our community’s health.

There is no disputing this, and nobody is trying to, discusses Emma D’Agostino.

The question is, how best to set such services up to meet the ever-growing demand for their help.

We will be keenly tracking developments in this space throughout the three-year mental health services reform period, ending in 2019.

The federal government has delegated many of the responsibilities to its 31 Primary Health Networks, which are only relatively new themselves.

The Murray Primary Health Network, which covers Bendigo, started on July 1, 2015.

It will assume responsibility for managing five headspace centres on July 1 this year.

As part of its role, Murray PHN will create a plan for integrated and accessible mental health services and suicide prevention programs, tailored especially to the region and community.

That will determine the future of our headspace centre, beyond the funding promised by the federal government for the next two years. Why?

The National Mental Health Commission’s review of mental health programs and services, released in December 2014, determined our approach was lacking.

“The overall impact of a poorly planned and badly integrated system is a massive drain on peoples’ wellbeing and participation in the community—on jobs, on families, and on Australia’s productivity and economic growth,” the review read.

“Despite almost $10 billion in Commonwealth spending on mental health every year, there are no agreed or consistent national measures of whether this is leading to effective outcomes or whether people’s lives are being improved.”

Headspace in Bendigo has an average of 125 new referrals from people aged 12-25 each month.

That’s a significant number of young people accessing the free service. Especially considering recent research, in which headspace was involved, found many aren’t seeking help for fear of the stigma attached.

Murray PHN chief executive Matt Jones has assured us the focus of long-term planning will be to build on the service.

We hope the reforms will further encourage people to seek help, and make it even easier to do so. To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

Patrick McGorry on Australia’s mental health funding

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Mental health symbol conceptual design isolated on white background

Mental health has made a late entry into the election campaign, with Labor leader Bill Shorten yesterday promising a national suicide register and $72 million for 12 regional suicide pilot projects.

Labor also promised to restore funding cuts to six early psychosis centres, and guaranteed that more than 95 Headspace centres across the country would stay open.

That promise was matched by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said that Headspace centres would continue to receive ‘the same level of support into the future’. A more detailed announcement on the Coalition’s mental health policy is expected later in the week.

Patrick McGorry, Executive Director of Orygen, Australia’s National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, joins Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast. To listen top the interview click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

The 2016 Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium; working together integrating care will be held at Mantra on Salt Beach, Kingscliff, NSW from 3-4 November 2016.

An optional half day of workshops will be held on Wednesday 2 November 2016.

This symposium will bring together leading clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts to deliberate and discuss Rural Mental Health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand. The symposium program will be designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage participants while facilitating discussion.

To express your interest in the 2016 conference CLICK HERE.

Fathers may pass anxiety and depression to their children genetically, study finds

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Father and son on a pier relaxing together

Men who are stressed can pass on anxiety and depression to their children and grandchildren, scientists in Australia have found, in a study which indicates parental advice has been “disproportionately” focused on the health and diet of women.

The study, based on mice which were fed stress hormones, examined the behaviour of the first and second generations of offspring.  It found that the later generations – that had no contact with their fathers – showed signs of increased anxiety and depression and that such behaviour may be passed on via molecules called “microRNAs” which affected genetic outcomes.

“People have assumed that apart from passing on half his genome, a father’s job is done,” Professor Anthony Hannan, from Melbourne’s Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, told The Herald Sun.

“But … the experience of the father before conception can directly influence the genetic information in the developing embryo.

“High levels of chronic stress have increased in our society, particular in recent decades, so we’re potentially setting up an epidemic of mental health problems in the next generation.”

The study measured stress levels by examining the behaviour of the mice in a range of situations, including putting them in a maze, forcing them to swim in a beaker and depriving them of food. In the maze, for instance, the stressed mice tended to spend more time in the darker side of the apparatus.

“They’re nocturnal so they actually prefer the dark side, and so a more anxious mouse will spend most of its time in the dark chamber,” Professor Hannan said.

“Or you can put them in another chamber where they can go out on an open ledge or they can stay in the more protected part of the maze, and again that’s just another test of anxiety and in both these tests, the offspring showed a disposition to be more anxious in those tests.”

The study, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, suggested further research was required to explore the effects of a father’s stress and to  improve  parental health advice.

“At present, peri-conceptual health advice is disproportionately focused on healthy lifestyle and diet in women,” the study said.

“This now appears insufficient, as there is equivocal potential for the male to directly influence the health outcomes of the child.”

Professor Hannan said  a study of children of Holocaust survivors found that traits were passed on but further human research was required, such as examining children of people suffering post traumatic stress disorder from car accidents or war experiences. To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

Do parents need lessons for children’s mental health?

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child mental healthParents should have lessons provided by the government on how to raise their children, Britain’s leading public health expert has said as reported by the BBC.

Professor John Ashton, outgoing president of the Faculty of Public Health (FPH), said children were neglected by some schools and parents.

He said the state should help stop children being crippled by conditions such as anxiety, anorexia and obesity.

The FPH has released a report calling for mental health improvements.

It says: “Mental, emotional or psychological problems account for more disability than all physical health problems put together.

“Although we cannot say yet exactly how much of the burden of mental illness could be prevented, we know prevention is possible.”

In the UK one in 10 children aged five to 16 years had a mental health problem that warranted support and treatment, the report said.

And the quality of the parent-child relationship and parenting more broadly played a primary role.

Prof Ashton said that, given the huge financial and human cost of mental health problems, more should be done to tackle their causes.

Prof Ashton suggested parenting advice and support could be provided by investing in existing networks – such as health visitors and schools. And by using social media to reach parents and setting up 24/7 helplines – for example for people raising adolescents.

Prof Sarah Stewart-Brown, who produced the report, said diet and activity played a role in mental health but “supporting parenting is key. The first 1,001 days of a child’s life are particularly important.

“Over three-quarters of all mental health problems emerge in childhood and adolescence.”

Programmes based in schools, workplaces, doctors’ surgeries, and in the community could help, she said.

The Faculty of Public Health sets standards for public health specialists in the UK and covers 3,300 professionals. To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

How can we remove the big stigma of mental health?

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mental-health-stigmaEach year, a quarter of all young people in this country will experience mental health issues, however many of them will not seek the help that they need.

New research, by the University of Melbourne, Orygen and Headspace revealed 26 per cent of young Australians aged 12–25 would not tell anyone about a personal mental health issue.

It also showed 52 per cent of young people are too embarrassed to discuss a mental health problem with anyone and nearly half were afraid of what others would think. The results also found 22 per cent would be unlikely or very unlikely to discuss it with their family doctor.

Stigma plays a profound and significant role in stopping Australian youth from seeking help for mental health issues.It can make it harder to ask for help and get support out of fear of being judged.

Spending time and getting to know people impacted by mental health issues, hearing their stories and understanding their experiences helps to change negative attitudes, reduce fear and social distance.The other is education, providing information and knowledge about mental health issues and the benefits of seeking help and seeking help early.

To combat stigma, headspace launched a vital new national awareness campaign aimed at informing Australians that the more we talk openly about mental health issues, the easier it becomes for young people to seek help.

Te new digital hub launched this week is complete with a virtual stigma to tear down, and links to resources and tools for friends and family seeking to support youth with mental health issues: Visit www.thebigstigma.com.au

Removing the stigma of mental health will be discussed at The 17th International Mental Health Conference to be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

Suicide risk guidelines maybe misleading, study finds

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SUICIDEThe tool used by psychiatrists to determine which patients are in immediate danger of suicide is ineffective and meaningless, according to an analysis of studies spanning half a century.

University of NSW Professor Matthew Large and University of Sydney Associate Professor Chris Ryan have called for risk assessment guidelines to be thrown out as a means by which to allocate resources to mental health patients as reported by the SMH.

Patients who were categorised “high risk” were 4.84 times more likely to suicide than those categorised “low risk” – which was statistically significant but clinically meaningless, as it was only slightly higher than the odds of men suiciding than women.

About 95 per cent of high-risk patients did not commit suicide, while half of low-risk patients did.

“The statistical difference is not big enough to mean anything,” Associate Professor Ryan said.

“If clinicians keep on doing these sorts of risk assessments, they’re really doing something that can’t possibly help them in the management of that patient and might mislead them.”

The meta-analysis of 37 studies on the link between suicide classification and mortality, published in PLOS One, found there was no reliable way to measure suicide risk and no scientific progress had been made in 50 years.

Complex methods of risk assessment that took into account multiple factors were not superior to those which measured a single risk factor.

Risk assessment guidelines are used to categorise mental health patients, with those deemed to be at high risk of suicide admitted to hospital and those believed to be at low risk sent home.

They take into account factors such as previous suicide attempts, substance abuse, depression age, employment status and family situation.

Professor Large said the consequences of relying on the risk assessment tool over an individual approach to patients could be that people deemed “low risk” were sent home to die, or those deemed “high risk” were unnecessarily committed.

Six of the most senior emergency department psychiatrists in NSW, including himself, had already stopped using the risk assessment guidelines, Professor Large said.

“We all agreed risk categorisation was a disaster.”

In Tasmania, reference to risk assessment has been removed from the Mental Health Act. To read more CLICK HERE.

Suicide will be a topic of discussion at The 17th International Mental Health Conference; Guiding the Change to be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

This conference will bring together leading clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts to deliberate and discuss Mental Health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand.

The conference program will be designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage participants while facilitating discussion. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.

Are antidepressants appropriate and effective for children?

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antidepressantsExcept for fluoxetine, antidepressants are ineffective in children and adolescents, according to findings from a systematic review involving four Australian mental health research centres.

Fluoxetine is the only one of 14 antidepressants that performed better than placebo in reducing depressive symptoms, the review and network meta-analysis shows as reported by the Medical Observer.

The study, involving 5260 patients aged from nine to 18 years in 34 randomised trials, was conducted by an international research group led by the University of Oxford.

The researchers, including psychiatrists and psychologists from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, ranked the antidepressants according to their safety, tolerability and efficacy.

Imipramine, venlafaxine and duloxetine had the worst profile for tolerability, leading to more discontinuations compared with placebo.

Nortriptyline was ranked as the least effective drug for reducing depressive symptoms, performing worse than antidepressants such as clomipramine and amitriptyline.

Venlafaxine was linked to a significantly increased risk of suicidality for young people compared with placebo and other antidepressants.

Child psychiatrist Professor Jon Jureidini from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, says the study emphasises that antidepressants should be prescribed to children or adolescents “only if the discounted benefit outweighs the boosted harm”.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.