Pam has always been a dedicated Anglican Church Southern Queensland (ACSQ) worker. Lately she has been struggling to keep up with her job demands. Her workload increased during a peak period that had tight deadlines. As a result, Pam started feeling stressed, which began taking a toll on her mental health. She started losing sleep, feeling anxious and irritable and struggled with concentration. Pam knew that she needed to take action to address her situation.
Fortunately, Pam’s manager and her workplace have established processes to effectively recognise and address Pam’s challenges. Through effective communication, Pam and her manager collaborated to implement appropriate changes to her job role and to provide Pam with the necessary support and adjustments to restore her mental health.
The case outlined above is a fictitious story highlighting that good mental health is crucial in any working environment.
Those serving in a religious organisation may experience unique stressors and pressures impacting their mental health, including a sense of responsibility for others’ spiritual wellbeing, potential conflict between personal beliefs and the organisation’s positions, and vicarious trauma related to pastoral care and chaplaincy.
Prioritising mental health in parish and ministry working environments helps promote a culture of care and compassion, enhances organisational productivity and fosters the Church’s mission. It can also help reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues and encourages clergy, employees and volunteers to seek help when needed.
In April 2023, the Queensland Government introduced legislative changes to its psychosocial laws. These changes aim to:
- provide greater protection and support for workers who are exposed to psychosocial hazards in their working environment
- include clearer definitions of psychosocial hazards
- place stronger obligations on employers to identify and manage these hazards.
Although the ACSQ bears a primary duty of care towards psychosocial hazards, the responsibility to manage these hazards and risk factors does not solely rest with employers. Everyone in the Church, including management, supervisors and volunteers share the responsibility of identifying and managing these risks. Creating a safe and healthy culture that prioritises mental health is essential for the safety of workers and the integrity and sustainability of any organisation.
Thus, the ACSQ is encouraging all workers (including clergy, employees and volunteers) to complete an anonymous psychosocial survey (approved by Safe Work Australia and WorkSafe Qld) to help our Diocese gain a better understanding of potential issues that may impact our psychological health at work. The ACSQ Psychosocial Survey, which is provided by People at Work, is an opportunity for you to contribute to building a healthier and safer working environment for yourself and your colleagues.
This is an anonymous survey. You will not be required to provide your name and few demographic-related questions are asked.
After the survey closes, the ACSQ will provide a report on issues that may be impacting the psychological health of workers in our Diocese. The survey results will be used to continue conversations towards a better organisation-wide understanding of these issues. This understanding will help us review and adapt how we operate and identify strategies to ensure we maintain a working environment free from psychological harm. Together we can ensure the wellbeing of all workers and create a more positive culture.
You can access the anonymous survey online. You are encouraged to take your time when completing the survey. It takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes. The survey period will be open until 12 noon Tuesday 14 November 2023.
We are committed to using the results of this survey to inform continuous work health and safety improvement, so your support of this process is most appreciated.
Recommended people to complete this survey include*:
- parish-based stipendiary (paid) clergy
- all other clergy (excluding retired clergy)
- stipendiary (paid) lay ministers
- parish staff
- church wardens
- parish council members
- chaplains and pastoral carers (both paid and volunteer)
- St Francis College staff
- Cathedral Precinct staff (excluding Lesser Chapter).
Author’s note: * If you need clarification on any of the terms or definitions in the survey, please contact the Work Health and Safety Advisor Michael Kucera on 3835 2315 or via email@example.com.Jump to next article