National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan

(31 July 2020) The Australian Government released the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan (the Plan) in May 2020 which provides a framework for effective mental health response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Plan acknowledges the significant challenges faced by the community at this time, with higher levels of reported anxiety and psychological distress. The Plan provides a way forward to support mental health and wellbeing by setting key priority areas to address.

ReturnToWorkSA acknowledges the Plan and we have reviewed our activities/initiatives against the Plan’s priority areas. Key initiatives that align with and support the Plan include:

External initiatives – injured workers and workplaces

  • We continue to maintain a strong focus on effective claims management, with claims agents continuing to actively support injured workers using digital alternatives to face-to-face services. This has included the implementation of telehealth fees for medical and allied health practitioners in response to COVID-19 so that injured workers can continue to receive essential medical and allied health support. Treating psychologists continue to be able to provide telehealth under existing fee structures.
  • The availability of a low intensity mental health support service for injured workers and family members who are experiencing stress or mild to moderate anxiety and depression to assist in their recovery and return to work.
  • Our mentally healthy workplaces program providing free education and consultancy services for those workplaces wanting to create mentally healthy workplaces, including reducing stigma and discrimination around mental health.
  • A free support service for return to work coordinators and employers to gain a greater understanding of how to best support injured workers to return to work.
  • An employer skill building program offering educational workshops to up-skill employers, return to work coordinators and managers on workplace mental health and return to work strategies.

Community initiatives

  • We continue to work collaboratively with a broad range of stakeholders, through the SA Workplace Mental Health Collaboration Group, to align state-wide efforts around workplace mental health, and to coordinate the development of tools, resources and initiatives. This includes a close working relationship with Beyond Blue.
  • ReturnToWorkSA recognises the impacts and potential harms associated with prescription opioids upon mental health and wellbeing and in 2019 launched the ReachForTheFacts community awareness campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of prescription opioids and enquiry into safer alternatives. Market research found the campaign has had an impact upon awareness of prescription opioids and their potential harms. We will continue to work with partners and supporters of the campaign to highlight community awareness around this very important issue.

Internal initiatives

  • In 2014, we introduced a comprehensive internal wellbeing strategy to support the mental health and wellbeing of our employees. This includes the appointment of an internal Wellbeing Business Partner, appointment of mental health first-aiders, an Employee Assistance Program, specific health and wellbeing activities and training sessions, and dedicated pandemic resources on our internal intranet site.

We are committed to continuing to monitor our services and develop further strategies and activities as needed, aligning with the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan.