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Jorgen

Jorgen Gullestrup

Year of Award: 2017 Award State: Queensland Health And Medicine > Mental Health
Social Welfare > Suicide And Crisis Support
To investigate and understand approaches to workplace suicide prevention and mental health globally - Switzerland, Denmark, UK, USA, New Zealand
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Conclusions:

Workplace mental health and suicide prevention require a comprehensive and multi-faceted intervention. The workplace is both a good venue for promoting better mental health and suicide prevention and at times causing mental ill health and even suicide.

For suicide to be recognised as potentially work-related a workable definition for work-related suicide will have to be developed. It is conceded that it may never be possible to develop an absolute definition for work-related suicide, but perhaps a threshold can be identified where further investigation is required.

To progress both mental health and suicide prevention in the workplace definitions must be agreed and base line data collected. Suicide must be accepted as potentially work related and at times the consequence of workplace mental health hazards which employers have a duty of care to manage.

Standards such as those developed in Sweden will also serve to encourage employers to develop policies and active programs monitoring the psychosocial work environment in the same manner as physical health is monitored today.

In short, workplace mental health and suicide risk should be treated as workplace hazards for which employers have a duty of care to mitigate risk, to investigate and to learn from near misses or incidents will lead to better mental health.

However, it should also be recognised that much mental ill-health and suicide risk is not work related, but that work can be a venue for intervention and support. A purely regulative and punitive approach could undermine some of the benefits of business and workplaces acting socially.

The meetings I had with employers, unions and employer associations in both Europe and the USA universally expressed a willingness to engage with worker and workplaces to improve mental health and preventing suicide.

Perhaps it is worth considering carrot as well as a stick approach, for example credits in procurement processes for public works or rebates on workers compensation insurances for such business engaging actively in workplace mental health and/or suicide prevention programs.

Keywords: Workplace, mental health, suicide, health and safety, prevention

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