Preventing Psychological Injury in the Workplace via Early Help Seeking

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Tuesday 3 April 2012

Only one third of workers with a high prevalence mental health problem (including substance abuse) seek help and each of these workers costs employers a significant amount per annum. The Help Seeking Program is changing this and is showing signs of preventing psychological injury in the workplace along the way.

As reported on ABC Radio 891, when conducted for 125 GM Holden employees in partnership with the Adelaide Northern Division of General Practice, The Help Seeking Program was evaluated and achieved the following results:

  • A near doubling of help seeking (36% to 68%) for mental health problems from informal sources such as friends, family, supervisors and self help materials.
  • Substantial increases in intention to seek help from health professionals (as measured by the World Health Organisation Help Seeking Intention Questionnaire).
  • A measurable reduction in stigma towards mental health problems.
  • Improved ability to identify mental health problems including their daily symptoms and early warning signs together with improved ability to identify and select effective treatments.

The overarching objective of the program is to increase help seeking intentions and behaviours for mental health problems by addressing the known barriers to help seeking. A range of evaluations demonstrate the program consistently achieves its stated objectives. Additionally, the impact of the program appears to be participants realising their early warning signs and that it is up to them to take action as well as gaining knowledge of how to commence this process. The earlier workers seek help the sooner they begin to develop their ‘tool box’ of coping strategies that increase resilience, positive mental health and other protective factors known to buffer people from psychological distress and injury.

The Help Seeking Program is available as an employee wellbeing program. Full details are available on the website www.helpseeking.com.au.