Every October, the Filipino-Australian community ought to be made aware of two of the month’s major highlights. Namely, that the World Mental Health Day is to be celebrated on the 10th and, spanning across the whole calendar month, is Health and Safety Month.

As intuitive as the names of the events imply, these two celebrations are aimed at addressing two of Australia’s common problems—particularly, occupational health and safety in the workplace, as well as the growing issue of mental health.

The topic of work health and safety is very important and should be a concern to all Australians. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring workplace safety – not just managers. Employers, however, have an obligation under Section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2014, “to provide and maintain for employees of the employer a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.” 

What is alarming is that workplace hazards do not just afflict injuries to those in a more susceptible disposition at work, but they, in some instances can cause fatalities. 

According to a statistic from Safe Work Australia which tallied the overall number of deaths of 2018 and 2019 as at September, the top six industries which have reported work-related death includes: transport, postal and warehousing; agriculture, forestry and fishing; construction; manufacturing; mining; and electricity, gas, water and waste services.

That is a total of 102 deaths across the span of one year in 2018 alone vis-à-vis to the higher rate of 111 deaths at the start of the year till September 2019. This is rather concerning considering how the statistics alone suggests that occupational health and safety is not necessarily improving in workplaces around Australia, despite the growing awareness that the various campaigns, which have been rampant on both TV and social media.

Each death in the workplace is one too many, and the impact on the victim’s family and work colleagues can be significantly traumatic. One must remember the psychological impact on a worker that has witnessed a workplace incident.

The topic of mental health is also an important aspect of the month as celebrated on the 10th in this country where it has been regarded as an ‘epidemic’. The aim of 10/10 each year is to reduce the stigma around mental health, and to encourage people to check in with each other by asking simple questions like “Are you okay?”.

There is striking statistics from the Black Dog Institute which relates mental illness to one in every five individuals (20%) between the ranges of 18 and 85, suggesting the severity of the issue. According to the same finding, the common form of mental illness boils down to the following areas: anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, oftentimes in combination with one another.

But what is probably more concerning is the fact that the research also seems to insinuate that around 45% of the total population are predisposed to suffering from a form of mental illness at least once in their lifetime. This is a very worrying finding indeed.

Adding more to the complication is also the finding that around 54% of those who suffer a form of mental illness do not receive treatment to either alleviate or treat their condition entirely.

Aside from this growing problem in Australia, other developed countries, too, like the USA, Canada, UK, and other European nations also share the same plight as well in their general population.

These statistics highlight that it is a significant issue in our society. The impact of the disorder affects a person not just on a personal level but also places significant impacts socially and economically. 

Photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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