October is Mental Health Month - Public Service Association

October is Mental Health Month

Dear members,

As you maybe aware, October is Mental Health Month.

Mental health is a critical issue in the workplace and the resilience of some PSA members is often tested to the extreme in the course of their normal duties.

In a recent assault on an inmate at a minimum security gaol, Correctional Officers were confronted with a harrowing sight that will undoubtedly stay with them for years to come. But they went about their duties and rendered assistance while ensuring the situation was contained.

A few years ago, when a smoking ban was introduced into prisons, the riot squad was on stand-by. There are not too many workplaces where the public order “riot” squad is required to be on high alert when there’s a change to the rules.

Staff at Juvenile Justice centres, where violence is almost a daily occurrence, are required, without any protective or defensive measures, to deal with violent young people, some of whom feel they have nothing to lose and have direct family links to convicted terrorists.

These members have either witnessed or been subjected to open threats of being beheaded: not something everyone encounters on an average day at work.

Child Protection workers deal all too often with tragedies involving small vulnerable children that they can never “unsee” and must make heart-wrenching decisions on behalf of those kids.

Legal Aid employees can suffer vicarious trauma when dealing with some difficult cases.

The list goes on and on but the fact is all PSA members are unfortunately at risk.

Many workplace situations pose great psychological, in addition to physical, threats and are on top of the other working stresses created by job cuts, the resulting work overload, bullying bosses, casualisation and privatisation.

NSW Police runs a highly successful program and I’m pleased to say the PSA has followed its lead and designed the Safer Together training package.

The course will be rolled out to members in high-risk employment, such as those above, before being available to all members of our union.

The training and associated resources will provide coping strategies that minimise workplace risks to mental health, support those with such conditions, and prevent discrimination.

Promoting good mental health and creating a positive, productive working environment go hand in hand and the PSA/CPSU NSW has your welfare as a core value and concern.

Please take care of yourself and your colleagues.

Take a few minutes to look at a video on the PSA’s mental health strategy HERE.

I also encourage you to like the Safer Together PSA Facebook page HERE.

Stewart Little
General Secretary

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