Frequently asked questions

Mentally healthy workplaces: Resources for workers

Frequently asked questions

Answers to some common questions relating to mentally healthy workplaces.

What is a hazard?

A ‘hazard’ is a situation or thing that has the potential to harm a person. Hazards at work may include noisy machinery, stress, a moving forklift, chemicals, bullying, electricity, low role clarity, working at height, a repetitive job, fatigue and violence.

What is mental health?

According to the World Health Organisation, good mental health is not simply an absence of a mental disorder. It is a state of wellbeing where an individual:

  • realises their own potential
  • manages everyday stresses
  • works productively
  • contributes to their community.

A person’s mental health status isn’t fixed and, over the course of their life, can move back and forth along a mental health continuum between mental wellbeing and mental ill health.

It is common to require assistance at different points of the mental health continuum, even if a person hasn’t been diagnosed with a mental health condition.

See Useful contacts for more information.

Does stress constitute a mental illness?
Eustress vs. Distress
Eustress vs. Distress

Stress and mental illness are related but are not the same thing. Stress is an inevitable part of daily life and can cause a range of outcomes. A person’s stress level is determined by how many demands they perceive themselves to have and how able they are to cope with the demands.

As with mental health, the experience of stress exists in more than one form. Stress can be divided into two types; distress, which is the term for negative stress, and eustress, the term for beneficial stress.

Distress can have physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms, which if not addressed, can affect your mental health. In preserving a mentally healthy workplace, your employer should provide resources to assist with the management of stress you and other workers are exposed to in the workplace.

For tips on dealing with stress at work refer to This FIFO Life’s wallet card: Strategies to manage stress at work.

What is bullying in the workplace?

Workplace bullying is defined as repeated inappropriate and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers, that creates a risk to health and safety.

Repeated behaviour refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can involve a range of behaviours over time.

Unreasonable behaviour means behaviour that a reasonable person, having considered the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

Examples of behaviour, whether intentional or unintentional, which may be workplace bullying if repeated, unreasonable, and creates a risk to health and safety include but are not limited to:

  • abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments
  • unjustified criticism or complaints
  • deliberately excluding someone from workplace activities
  • withholding information that is vital for effective work performance
  • setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines
  • setting tasks that are unreasonably below or beyond a person's skill level
  • denying access to information, supervision, consultation or resources to the detriment of the worker
  • spreading misinformation or malicious rumours
  • changing work arrangements such as rosters and leave to deliberately inconvenience a particular worker or workers.

For information issued under the WHS Act on dealing with psychosocial behaviour, refer to Mentally healthy workplaces codes of practice