01st Dec, 2020 Read time 6 minutes

The top mental health themes of 2020

This roundup article from Tap into Safety looks at some of their main mental health articles of 2020 and the themes that can be drawn between them.


As 2020 draws to a close we look at the top six mental health themes that are of most interest to our readership. This article provides a brief summary of each article and a link back to the original. Some are articles we published this year, and others in previous years. This set of mental health themes is useful in providing a well-rounded discussion to help you to keep your people psychologically safe, resilient and mentally fit.

Stigma and Barriers to Mental Health Care

Governments, Organisations, Schools and Support Agencies are all trying to address stigma and barriers to accessing mental health care.  Stigma arises out of negative attitudes, opinions, and stereotypes and may lead to discrimination against anyone with any form of mental illness. It is a key influence on people who seek help and it affects the timeliness of their help-seeking.

In this article, we review a paper, published in 2017 in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, that looks at mental health stigma and barriers to seeking help by first responders. The key barriers to help-seeking by this group are:

  1. Fears regarding confidentiality
  2. Negative impact on their career
  3. Managing help around their job
  4. Not knowing where to seek help

Barriers to care for mental health issues, including not knowing where to seek help, and stigma around mental illness can lead to delayed help-seeking. Failure to seek help, or delaying to seek help, slows the recovery time and can lead to serious events such as suicide. Stigma remains one of the top mental health themes as many try to reduce negative associations of mental health in their organisations.

Workplace Bullying: What Do We Know and What Works?

Workplace bullying was one of our top mental health themes for 2020 and we have written extensively on the topic. This article reviews a publication from academics in Norway who are world experts on the topic. They provide a review of the literature on research conducted over the last 30 years to investigate what we know and what we don’t know about workplace bullying and the effectiveness of workplace bullying interventions.

The research suggests that the long term effects of bullying are dependent upon a range of personal, situational and organisational characteristics such as individual dispositions and resilience, coping behaviours, social support, and leadership practices. Bullying can affect a person’s sense of coherence, cause self-labelling as a victim of bullying, their ability to defend themselves, agreeableness, coping mechanisms and optimism. When there are low levels of workplace bullying, personal strengths have a protective effect against mental distress. In cases of high workplace bullying exposure, targets report equally high levels of mental distress irrespective of their individual personal strength or predisposition. High-intensity bullying is detrimental for all.

For more information, see our articles,

Why Do People Use Bullying Behaviour at Work?

Does Workplace Bullying Affect Your Staff Mental Health?

Which Leadership Style Impacts Bullying?

Does Workplace Bullying Have Long Term Effects?

9 Mental Health Self-Care Strategies

This simple article provides self-care strategies that you can use every day to help you manage when things get a little tough. We know that 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us and our resilience has been sorely tested. One of the key mental health themes is to increase your self-care and to learn coping strategies.

See our article, How Will Australians Recover From COVID-19?

Managing Fatigue Through COVID-19

Managing fatigue is an issue for many workplaces, but through COVID-19, it’s a problem for many of us who ordinarily wouldn’t be exposed to this risk. But these are not ordinary times.

We might be working from home and have extended workdays where there is no differentiation between work and home life. Or we may be managing work around family obligations such as home-schooling or caring for others.

We might be working in an industry that requires us to work longer shifts while trying to keep up with demand such as food, agriculture or warehousing. Or we may be a FIFO worker for the mining, prospecting or oil and gas industries on extended rosters or no means to fly back home, because of the lock-downs associated with COVID-19.

Every one of these examples can lead to mental or physical fatigue.

For this article, we take a look at some research that investigates one of the key mental health themes managing fatigue in terms of both health and cognitive consequences with a focus on sleep. The study suggests that quality sleep is critical and that organisations should consider scientifically-proven sleep-enhancement and alertness-management strategies.

We link that study with another piece of research that looks at the impact of mental fatigue on the regulation of emotions. An inability to regulate your emotions can lead to negative and depressive thoughts and impact on your mental health.

Best Manager Actions for Employee Mental Health

This year there have been anecdotal reports that 80% of your employees are anxious, and suicide attempts have increased by 5%. They are worried about losing their job, many are isolated working from home, and they are incredibly concerned that they will catch the coronavirus.

In a survey conducted by the Australian Industry Group in April 2020, they found that 31% of employers report that their employees are highly anxious and 38% said their HR and OHS professionals are severely overloaded.

In this article, we investigate the signs of declining mental health and the recommended manager actions to help employees who may be struggling.

Online Mental Health Training and Support Can Help

Offering training to teach effective coping strategies builds employee’s resilience and is one of the best manager actions you can take.  The Tap into Safety online and mobile-friendly platform has comprehensive mental health training across 24 topics, substantial free support and reporting to guide you where to place your efforts in 2021 and beyond! We also have some new micro-learning modules to help you manage through COVID-19 and the recovery.

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