Stress Claims in Victoria as of June 30 2014 (adapted from The Age 21 October 2014)
The annual number of claims for mental disorders has risen by almost 470 in five years while the annual amount paid out in compensation has soared by 45 per cent to $273 million. Job-related stress is increasing in Victorian workplaces with 58 compensation claims for psychological injuries being accepted every week.
Victoria’s two biggest worker compensation categories – musculoskeletal complaints and major sprains and strains – have either fallen or remained steady in claim numbers over the same period along with most other physical injuries. For the first time, mental disorders have overtaken wounds to become the state’s third-leading workplace injury.
WorkCover data shows the average individual compensation payout for psychological injuries has ballooned from $73,000 in 2008-09 to almost $90,000 in the past financial year.
Mental health group Beyondblue attributes the rise in work-related mental stress claims to reduced stigma, heavier workloads and increasing job insecurity. But it was also being driven by a heightened recognition of the connection between the workplace and mental health, the group said, with a series of high-profile civil lawsuits ending in six and seven-figure payouts from employers found at fault.
Last month, former teacher Peter Doulis was awarded more than $1.3 million in damages for chronic depression after he was found to have been allocated an unduly heavy workload of a western suburbs school’s worst-behaved students.
“Cases like these get people thinking about their own workplace and conditions, and reflecting more objectively about situations they may be tolerating,” Beyondblue head of workplace policy Nick Arvanitis said.
With an estimated one in five workers taking time off work due to feeling mentally unwell in the past year, industry groups and health advocates have urged employers to treat the mental health of their staff as seriously as physical health and safety.
The data below gives a more comprehensive overview of those industries and workers more likely to make stress claims.
Mental Disorders in Victoria