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Mental Health and Wellbeing — Employees

Policy

This policy outlines the risk management methodology for identifying and managing psychological risks and hazards, including workplace climate, to support the mental health and wellbeing of employees in schools.

Summary

  • The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 (Vic) requires the Department to provide or maintain systems of work and a working environment that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risk to health. Under the OHS Act 2004, reference to health includes psychological health.
  • The principal and/or their delegate must ensure that psychological hazards and their causes/relevant factors associated with employee mental health and wellbeing, including workplace climate, are identified, that risks are assessed and controlled, information and training is provided, and records are maintained.
  • Under the OHS Act 2004, employees while at work must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions.
  • Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and employees manage mental health risks, including access to the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Service and local occupational health and safety regional officers, who can provide free advice about how to identify workplace factors and implement controls.
  • The Mental Health and Wellbeing Procedure must be followed, and sets out the practical step-by-step instructions for implementing this policy.
  • This policy forms part of the Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Management System, see OHS Management System (OHSMS) — Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing for further information.

Details

The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with employees and Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) must:

  • enter the following three hazards in the ‘Hazard Description’ column of the school Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Risk Register:
    • workplace bullying
    • occupational violence
    • student challenging behaviour
  • identify and record potential workplace indicators and contributing workplace factor(s) that alone, or in combination, may contribute to a mentally unsafe working environment locally, including:
    • those identified in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Guide
    • hazards associated with workplace climate, such as workplace conflict (e.g. employee work style). This is to be included in the ‘Hazard Description’ column of the OHS Risk Register
  • assess the level of risk associated with workplace indicators and the workplace contributing factors, as per section 3.1 and 3.2 of the Procedure
  • ensure a documented risk assessment is completed if the risk level in the OHS Risk Register is rated ‘High’ or ‘Extreme’
  • record the current risk controls in the OHS Risk Register, and where a risk assessment is to be completed, record them in the Risk Assessment Template or equivalent
  • provide information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to enable all employees to do their work in a way that is safe and without risk to health (e.g. promote the completion of Workplace Bullying and Respectful Workplace eLearning modules)
  • refer to the Managing Complaints, Misconduct and Unsatisfactory Performance Policy when resolving conflict
  • eliminate or reduce the level of risk associated with work-related risk factors that may cause a mental health injury, so far as is reasonably practicable, by considering the workplace factors

The principal and/or their delegate must:  

  • monitor and review the effectiveness of implemented risk controls on a regular and ongoing basis (e.g. quarterly) in consultation with relevant parties (including HSR). Additional reviews are required when:
    • an incident or near miss is reported
    • a new potential risk is identified (e.g. through a report on eduSafe Plus)
  • ensure all employees are informed about the risk controls in place to manage mental health and wellbeing in the school
  • ensure all hazards, incidents and injuries are reported on eduSafe per the Reporting and Managing School Related Emergencies and Incidents Policy
  • communicate to all employees about the Department’s mental health and wellbeing resources. Refer to the Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing Services page

Definitions

Mental Health
Mental health is defined as a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stressors of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to the community. Mental health can be explained on a continuum where mental health is at one end, represented by feeling good and functioning well, through to severe symptoms of mental health conditions at the other. Mental health is not fixed or in a static state, and individuals can move back and forth along this scale at different times during their lives.

Psychological Hazard
A psychological hazard is any hazard that affects the mental wellbeing or mental health of the employee by overwhelming individual coping mechanisms and impacting the employee's ability to work in a healthy and safe manner. Examples of psychological hazards are:

  • work-related stress
  • work-related occupational violence
  • workplace bullying

Risk Management Methodology
Risk management methodology is a 4 step process whereby:

  1. hazards are identified in the workplace (e.g. workplace inspections, consultation with employees, eduSafe reports)
  2. identified hazards are risk assessed (e.g. determining how likely and how serious the effects will be on employees exposed to the hazard)
  3. risk controls measures are implemented which will eliminate or minimise the injury from the identified hazards
  4. periodic reviews of the risk controls to ensure the implemented control measures are appropriate and effective

Workplace Climate
Workplace climate represent employees’ perceptions of organisational policies, practices and procedures and subsequent patterns of interactions and behaviours that support the same (e.g. the support that employees feel they receive from the organisation).

The organisational culture is a system of shared assumptions, beliefs and values that governs how the people in the organisation behave. The culture of an organisation breeds a workplace climate, which represents how members of the workplace experience that organisation’s culture.

Department policy on managing and supporting the mental health of employees in schools

Reviewed 12 July 2021

Policy last updated

13 July 2021

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

OHS Advisory Service

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