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SafeWork NSW study reveals the toll of COVID-19 on mental health

Results of a study into the impacts of the pandemic on workplace mental health in NSW were released at the end of April. The SafeWork NSW study of more than 4,000 employers and 8,000 employees across the state, found that over the past 12 months:

  • 38% of supervisors and 27% of workers reported feeling mentally unwell;
  • of those, 53% and 45% respectively said the negative change in their mental health was caused by COVID-19;
  • 27% of employers felt isolated;
  • 32% of supervisors reported being stressed or constantly under pressure; and
  • 27% of workers were being given too much work.

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said that due to COVID-19, “almost overnight we were confronted with a level of upheaval and workplace disruption that we have never had to face before”.

“Anecdotally, we all heard how factors such as mandatory lockdowns and isolation, the anxiety of getting sick, potential loss of income and fear of what the future may hold, were having a big impact on workers’ mental health.

“The study, commissioned to understand the mid-point performance of the NSW Government’s Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy 2018–2022, included questions to determine the extent to what we were hearing was accurate and how the NSW Government could use these findings to refresh our approach to improving mental health in the workplace.”

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the study highlighted the importance of employers prioritising the mental health of their workers.

“These findings reinforce the need to ensure everyone in the workplace knows what supports are available and has the confidence to access them,” Mrs Taylor said.

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