Australian Experiences

  • Kym JenkinsEmail author
  • Samuel B. Harvey
Part of the Integrating Psychiatry and Primary Care book series (IPPC)


This chapter outlines the geography of Australia and the demographics of its population and thus the context in which any consideration of mentally healthy workplaces occurs.

The authors then give consideration to what may constitute a mentally healthy workplace in the Australian setting and Australian efforts to develop frameworks to help guide employers wishing to create more mentally healthy workplaces. Whilst many of challenges are common to those experienced by workers in other jurisdictions, those specific to working life in Australia are highlighted.

The growing recognition of importance of workplace mental health in Australia is explored, and the work of key organisations involved in workplace mental health initiatives is illustrated.

More detailed description is given to one example of how an Australian industry has begun to tackle workplace mental health in which the authors are actively involved as clinicians and academics, namely, the mental health of health professionals.

The research and references quoted in this chapter are almost exclusively those derived in the Australian setting.


Workplace mental health Australia Prevention Resources Medical practitioners 



Australian Bureau of Statistics


Australian Defence Force


Australian Institute of Company Directors


Australian Medical Students Association

Australian states:


New South Wales




South Australia






Western Australia

Australian mainland territories:


Australian Capital Territory


Northern Territory


Facilitated support group for medical professionals with substance use disorders—part of Victorian Doctors’ Health Program


Employee assistance program


Medical Board of Australia—the regulatory body for medical registration in Australia


Mental Health First Aid


Nurses and Midwives Health Programs


Royal Australasian College of Surgeons


Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists


Return to work


Victorian Doctors Health Program


  1. 1.
    Harvey SB, Deady M, Wang MJ, Mykletun A, Butterworth P, Christensen H, et al. Is the prevalence of mental illness increasing in Australia? Evidence from national health surveys and administrative data, 2001–2014. Med J Aust. 2017;206(11):490–3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    LaMontagne A, Martin A, Page K, Reavley N, Noblet A, Milner A, Keegal T, Smith P. Workplace mental health: developing an integrated intervention approach. BMC Psychiatry. 2014;14:131. PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: summary of results (4326.0). Canberra: ABS; 2008.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Australian Demographic Statistics. 2017.
  5. 5.
    2016 Census QuickStats.
  6. 6.
    Population of Australia. 2018.
  7. 7.
    Bowers J, Lo J, Miller P, et al. Psychological distress in remote mining and construction workers in Australia. Med J Aust. 2018;208:391–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Andersen K, Hawgood J, Klieve H, Kolves K, DeLeo D. Suicide in selected occupations in Queensland: evidence from state suicide register. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010;44(3):243–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Media release New budget; record investment in workplace mental health. Accessed 7 June 2018.
  10. 10.
    LaMontagne A, Sanderson K, Cocker F. Estimating the economic benefits of eliminating job strain as a risk factor for depression Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). 2010. Accessed Jan 2108.
  11. 11.
    Harvey SB, Modini M, Joyce S, Milligan-Saville JS, Tan L, Mykletun A, et al. Can work make you mentally ill? A systematic meta-review of work-related risk factors for common mental health problems. Occup Environ Med. 2017;74(4):301–10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Butterworth P, Leach LS, Kiely KM. Why it’s important for it to stop. Examining the mental health correlates of bullying and ill-treatment at work in a cohort study Australian and New Zealand. J Psychiatry. 2016;50:1085–95.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Verkuil B, Atasayi S, Molendijk ML. Workplace bullying and mental health: a meta-analysis on cross-sectional and longitudinal data. PLoS One. 2015;10(8):e0135225.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gillen PA, Sinclair M, Kernohan WG, Begley CM, Luyben AG. Interventions for the prevetion of bulyingin the workplace. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;1:CD009778. Scholar
  15. 15.
    Highlights from the 2016 AICD Essential Director Update with Graham Bradley AM FAICD. Accessed Apr 2018.
  16. 16.
    Allison S, Bastiampillai T. Workplace bullying in Australia: recruiting ethical leaders is an important public health measure. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2016;50(11):1104–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Dollard MF, McTernan W. Psychosocial safety climate: a multilevel theory of work stress in the health and community service sector. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2011;20(4):287–93.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Dollard MF, Tuckey MR, Dormann C. Psychosocial safety climate moderates the job demand-resource interaction in predicting workgroup distress. Accid Anal Prev. 2012;45:694–704.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Law R, Dollard MF, Tuckey MR, Dormann C. Psychosocial safety climate as a lead indicator of workplace bullying and harassment, job resources, psychological health and employee engagement. Accid Anal Prev. 2011;43(5):1782–93.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Bond SA, Michelle TR, Dollard MF. Psychosocial safety climate, workplace bullying, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress. Organ Dev J. 2010;28:37–56.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    La Montagne AD, Keegal T, Vallance D. Protecting and promoting mental health in the workplace: developing a systems approach to job stress Health Promotion. J Aust. 2007;18(3):221–8.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Memish K, Martin A, Bartlett L, Dawkins S, Sanderson K. Workplace mental health: an international review of guidelines. Prev Med. 2017;101:213–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mental health commission of Canada. Psychological health and safety in the workforce: prevention, promotion and guidance to staged implementation. Toronto: Bureau de normalisation du Quebec; 2013. Google Scholar
  24. 24.
  25. 25.
    Petrie K, Joyce S, Tan L, Henderson M, Johnson A, Nguyen H, et al. A framework to create more mentally healthy workplaces: a viewpoint. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2018;52(1):15–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    The Fair Work Commission. Anti bullying jurisdiction. Fair Work Australia. Accessed Mar 2018.
  27. 27.
    Australian Human Rights Commission.
  28. 28.
  29. 29.
    Providing Mental Health first aid in the workplace.
  30. 30.
  31. 31.
  32. 32.
    Gayed A, Milligan-Saville JS, Nicholas J, Bryan BT, LaMontagne AD, Milner A, et al. Effectiveness of training workplace managers to understand and support the mental health needs of employees: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Occup Environ Med. 2018;75(6):462–70.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Joyce S, Modini M, Christensen H, Mykletun A, Bryant R, Mitchell PB, et al. Workplace interventions for common mental disorders: a systematic meta-review. Psychol Med. 2016;46(4):683–97.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Joyce S, Shand F, Tighe J, Laurent SJ, Bryant RA, Harvey SB. Road to resilience: a systematic review and meta-analysis of resilience training programmes and interventions. BMJ Open. 2018;8(6):e017858.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Milligan-Saville JS, Tan L, Gayed A, Barnes C, Madan I, Dobson M, et al. Workplace mental health training for managers and its effect on sick leave in employees: a cluster randomised controlled trial. Lancet Psychiatry. 2017;4(11):850–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
  37. 37.
    Kirk A, Brown D. Employee assistance programs: a review of the management of stress and wellbeing through workplace counselling. Aust J Psychol. 2003;38(2):138–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Joseph B, Walker A. Employee assistance programs in Australia: the perspectives of organisation leaders across sectors Asia Pacific. J Hum Resour. 2017;55:177–91.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Henderson M, Hotopf M, Wessely S. Workplace counselling. An appeal for evidence. Occup Environ Med. 2003;60:899–900.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
  41. 41.
    Mata DA, Ramos MA, Bansal N, Khan R, Guille C, Di Angelantonio E, et al. Prevalence of depression and depressive symptoms among resident physicians: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2015;314(22):2373–83.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Firth-Cozens J. Chapter 2: A perspective on stress and depression. In: Cox J, Jennifer K, A. Hutchinson & P. McAvoy (Eds.). Understanding doctors performance Oxford: Radcliffe Publishing; 2006. p. 22–25.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Agerbo E, Gunnell D, Bonde JP, Mortensen PB, Nordentoft M. Suicide and occupation: the impact of socio-economic, demographic and psychiatric differences. Psychol Med. 2007;37(8):1131–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Hem E, Haldorsen T, Aasland OG, Tyssen R, Vaglum P, Ekeberg Ø. Suicide rates according to education with a particular focus on physicians in Norway 1960–2000. Psychol Med. 2005;35(6):873–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Hawton K, Agerbo E, Simkin S, Platt B, Mellanby RJ. Risk of suicide in medical and related occupational groups: a national study based on Danish case population-based registers. J Affect Disord. 2011;134(1):320–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Wallace JE, Lemaire JB, Ghali WA. Physician wellness: a missing quality indicator. Lancet. 2009;374(9702):1714–21.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Aronsson G, Gustafsson K, Dallner M. Sick but yet at work. An empirical study of sickness presenteeism. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2000;54(7):502.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Fahrenkopf AM, Sectish TC, Barger LK, Sharek PJ, Lewin D, Chiang VW, et al. Rates of medication errors among depressed and burnt out residents: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2008;336(7642):488–91.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Garrouste-Orgeas M, Perrin M, Soufir L, Vesin A, Blot F, Maxime V, et al. The Iatroref study: medical errors are associated with symptoms of depression in ICU staff but not burnout or safety culture. Intensive Care Med. 2015;41(2):273–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Zhou AY, Carder M, Gittins M, Agius R. Work-related ill health in doctors working in Great Britain: incidence rates and trends. Br J Psychiatry. 2017;211(5):310–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Henderson M, Hotopf M, Leon DA. Childhood temperament and long-term sickness absence in adult life. Br J Psychiatry. 2009;194(3):220–3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Henderson M, Harvey SB, Øverland S, Mykletun A, Hotopf M. Work and common psychiatric disorders. J R Soc Med. 2011;104(5):198–207.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Gerada C. Doctors and mental health. Occup Med. 2017;67(9):660–1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Panagioti M, Panagopoulou E, Bower P, Lewith G, Kontopantelis E, Chew-Graham C, et al. Controlled interventions to reduce burnout in physicians: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(2):195–205.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Jenkins K. Keeping the doctor healthy: ongoing challenges. Med J Aust. 2009;191(8)Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Beyond blue. The National Mental health survey of doctors and Medical Students. 2013. Accessed Jan 2018.
  57. 57.
    Jenkins K. The Health of Doctors and Doctors-in-Training: Australian perspectives Personal communication Presentation at Tri-Nation Alliance International Medical Symposium Sydney, 2018.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Henderson M, Brooks SK, del Busso L, Chadler T, Harvey SB, Hotopf M, Madan, Hatch S. Shame! Selfstigmatisation as an obstacle to sick doctors returning to work: a qualitative study. BMJ Open. 2012;2:e001776. Scholar
  59. 59.
  60. 60.
    Watters DAK, Hillis DJ. Discrimination bullying and sexual harassment; where next for medical leadership. Med J Aust. 2015;203:175–57.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Clode D, Baldero J. Keeping the Doctor Alive: a self-care guidebook for medical practitioners. South Melbourne Victoria: Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; 2005.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Keeping your grass greener. Australian Medical student mental health campaign. PDF sourced March 2018 from
  63. 63.
    Medical board to fund national health services. MBA media release. Accessed 10 Apr 2014.
  64. 64.
    Wile C, Frei M, Jenkins K. Doctors and medical students managed by an Australian Doctors Health Program: characteristics and outcomes. Australas Psychiatry. 2011;19(3):202–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Wile C, Jenkins K. The value of a support group for doctors with substance use disorders. Australas Psychiatry. 2013;21(5):581–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Jenkins K. Access to healthcare by psychiatrists, psychiatric trainees and overseas trained psychiatrists: findings from the RANZCP Welfare study. Australas Psychiatry. 2017;25(2):175–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Fisher J. What makes psychiatry such a stressful profession; a qualitative study. Australas Psychiatry. 2007;15:417–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Rotstein S, Jenkins K. Career satisfaction and work stressors in psychiatrists and psychiatry trainees in Australia and New Zealand. Australas Psychiatry. 2017;25(2):172–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Nurses and midwives health

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Australian and New Zealand College of PsychiatristsMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Workplace Mental Health Research Program, School of PsychiatryUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations