Factors Affecting Mental Health

Beyond Blue, a not for profit organisation which promotes good mental health, has noted that the common factors influencing mental health in the workplace are:

 

  • Heavy workloads 
  • Demanding deadlines and targets 

  • Unclear roles and responsibilities 

  • Low control over how the job is carried out 

  • Challenging work hours 

  • High emotional, mental or physical demands 

  • Lack of recognition or feedback 

  • Bullying and/or poorly managed behaviours 

  • Discrimination.


Given the amount of change, uncertainty and reform implementation that is happening across many councils in New South Wales at present, several of the factors listed above are likely to be part of the work environment. How organisations deal with these emerging factors is what will make the difference to the health and wellbeing of the workforce. 

The Australian Mental Health Commission produced an evidence-based report of the possible factors affecting mental health. The Report, called Developing a Mentally Healthy Workplace: A review of the literature (Word 1.7MB) identifies the following work and personal factors:

 

  • Job design – demands of the job, control in the work environment, resources provided, the level of work engagement, the characteristics of the job and potential exposure to trauma
  • Team/group factors – support from colleagues and managers, the quality of interpersonal relationships, effective leadership and availability of manager training
  • Organisational factors – changes to the organisation, support from the organisation, recognising and rewarding work, how justice is perceived in an organisation, a psychosocial safety climate, positive organisational climate, and a safe physical environment
  • Home/work conflict – the degree to which conflicting demands from home, including significant life events, interfere with work
  • Individual biopsychosocial factors – genetics, personality, early life events, cognitive and behavioural patterns, mental health history, lifestyle factors and coping style.

 

The Report explains each of the factors in some detail and warns that mental ill-health is usually quite a complex interaction of several factors. For this reason, organisations need to consider a diverse range of strategies and actions.

 

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