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Navigating psychosocial hazards and factors within the workplace

Tanya OrszulakTanya Orszulak from the Psychological Health Unit talked to 4BC Radio about Mental Health Week and how to navigate psychosocial hazards and factors within the workplace.

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Radio 4BC interview with Tanya Orszulak on Mental Health Week

Next week is Mental Health Week. There are plenty of initiatives that have been announced by the Queensland Government to get involved from breakfast to free online seminars. Joining us now to chat about how you can get involved and why it's important is Tanya Orszulak, who is the Principal Advisor of the Psychological Health Unit in the Office of Industrial Relations.

Tanya, good morning to you.

Good morning to you, Bill. Thank you so much for having me this morning.

Absolute pleasure. Can you tell us some of the highlights of events, that are happening next week and the importance of it?

So, Mental Health Week runs from the 10th right through to the 14th October that anyone can register for. It's part of Safe Work Month which is the whole month of October. We have 5 livestream sessions that people can go to. Starting on the 11th of October, we have Regulating Mentally Healthy Workplaces, a live stream that explores common event based in cumulative psychosocial hazards and factors at work.

Our second livesteam session is Imagining a Workplace Without Burnout: New findings and a roadmap to prevention.

We have another live stream on Suicide prevention for at risk industries and our final livestream is on Diversity and inclusion for mentally healthy workplaces.

How big an issue has mental health in the workplace become, since and during covid?

Well, it's always been an issue, but honestly Bill, it has exploded. So mental health at work and mental health just generally has definitely been negatively impacted by COVID in the way we had to change so quickly. The way we operate our daily lives, and the way we work. From being isolated and having to work from home, and to not being able to connect with our loved ones and family. So it really has, had a huge impact on the way we deal with our mental health.

Is it a challenge for a lot of people to return to the workplace full-time when many workers had been working from home?

Absolutely, we are seeing workplaces are trying to encourage their workers to return to the office. There is still alot of fear out there about returning to the office, such as lenthly travel times. The daily commute can affect people as far as fatigue. Workers have been used to working from home, but then what's happened, is a those boundaries between work and home life have become blurred.

I have to ask you before we let you go, I know there's a lot of workplaces that have seminars, morning teas, they throw on retreats, pizza days all sorts of things. Do you think it actually helps in alleviating mental health pressures in employees?

Look, that's a really great question. While those things are great to recognise and enjoy the connecting with others, the real purpose of looking at, psychosocial hazards and how to manage those at work is to promote the awareness, but it's also to prevent people from being harmed by the work that they do. I really encourage, anyone out there who perhaps is wanting to know more about what to do to manage mental health at work to keep people thriving and working well.

So jump on our website at and you can register for our free livestream sessions. There's a load of information on each event and about how to actually manage those psychosocial hazards and risks at work to keep your workers safe and healthy.

Can I ask you one little tricky one before we let you go? If you've got a few issues happening at home, they're having an impact on your mental health and you need a bit of help from your boss at work, but I don't want to tell them because I don't want to be targeted, or to work against me in my job. What do you advise people that are in that position?

Well that is the tricky one. Of course it depends on the relationship that you have with your employer or your manager supervisor. Obviously if the relationship isn't one that you feel safe to be able to tell them what's going on home, perhaps it will be better, not to divulge, but then take advantage of other opportunities to share what's going on. Perhaps talk to colleagues, a GP, or get some help from a mental health professional if it's affecting you. If you do have a good rapport and relationship where you feel safe to be able to talk about what's going on at home, see if your employer is understanding and could make some reasonable adjustments for you at work.

Good advice. Thank you for chatting with us this morning.

Thank you very much Bill.

You too Tanya. That's Tanya Orszulak who is the Principal Advisor of the Psychological Health Unit in the Office of Industrial Relations.

Does that strike a chord with you? Do you feel comfortable talking to your boss about what's going on at home and how it's impacting your work?

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