Work-related mental health conditions take a huge toll on worker health and productivity, with the negative impact felt by individuals themselves, their families, and colleagues.

Work pressure, work related harassment or bullying, and exposure to workplace or occupational violence are all significant causes of work-related mental health conditions.

This infographic looks at the rate, type and causes of work-related mental health conditions in the workplace, to help us focus on how to reduce these statistics.

Data from the infographic

On average each year between 2012–13 to 2016–17p:

  • 6 per cent of all serious workers compensation claims were for work-related mental health conditions.
  • 7,140 Australians were compensated for work-related mental health conditions.
  • 92 per cent of serious work-related mental health condition claims were attributed to mental stress.
  • 42 per cent of serious work-related mental health condition claims were made by males, 58 per cent by females.

The occupations most at risk of work-related mental health conditions were:

  • Defence force members, fire fighters and police – 9 per cent of serious mental health condition claims
  • School teachers ­– 8 per cent of serious mental health condition claims, and
  • Health and welfare support workers – 6 per cent of serious mental health condition claims.

The types of mental health conditions for which workers received compensation:

  • Reaction to stressors – 37 per cent
  • Anxiety / stress disorder – 31 per cent
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder – 12 per cent
  • Anxiety / depression combined – 11 per cent, and
  • Depression – 4 per cent.

The main causes of serious mental health condition claims were:

  • Work pressure – 21 per cent
  • Work related harassment or bullying – 20 per cent, and
  • Exposure to workplace or occupational violence – 10 per cent.

Note: ‘Serious’ workers’ compensation claims relate to those claims where the injury or illness has resulted in one or more weeks off work.

The data for 2016-17p is preliminary (denoted by ‘p’) which is subject to upwards revision in subsequent years as further claims are finalised.

Who is this information for?

This infographic is relevant to employers, supervisors and workers interested in mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Work health and safety professionals, researchers, support services and other business stakeholders seeking to improve the mental health of workers may also be interested.


All statistics for this infographic have been sourced from Safe Work Australia’s National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics.

Additional resources

WHS regulators and workers’ compensation authorities have useful information, resources and tools on their websites. Many have specific guidance on workplace stress, harassment, bullying or work-related violence. There is also some information on best practice approaches beyond those required to meet your duties.

Support services

  • Australian Human Rights Commission: provides information on workers’ rights to a discrimination free workplace.
  • Beyond Blue: provides information and support including a series of videos on how businesses of varying types and sizes have created mentally healthy workplaces.
  • Black Dog Institute: provides educational programs and resources for health professionals, community groups, workplaces and schools.
  • Fair Work Commission: provides information on national anti-bullying laws.
  • Heads Up: provides business information that demonstrates how to identify mental health risks and implement control measures.
  • Lifeline: provides all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
  • SANE Australia: provides a suite of mental health resources for businesses and organisations.
  • Suicide call back service: a nationwide service that provides professional 24/7 telephone and online counselling to people who are affected by suicide.
  • SuperFriend: partners with profit-to-member super funds and group life insurers to provide tailored solutions for the sector, its employers and members.
  • R U OK?: provides guidance and resources to help start life-changing conversations and prevent suicide.
  • Farmlink: has a range of mental health resources for people working in rural and regional areas, particularly farmers.
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