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New Australian Public Holiday; Extra Day off for Mental Health and Wellbeing

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New public holiday encourages Australians to address mental health at work.

Mental illness is causing a major problem in many workplaces putting people at risk, and one group thinks the way to tackle it is with a new public holiday.

There are calls for Australians to receive a new public holiday in order to address an important and increasingly urgent challenge.

Being, a Mental Health Consumer Advisory group in NSW, believes a gazetted day off for workers would “change the conversation” about when it’s appropriate to take a sickie.

“If someone gets food poisoning or the flu, or has any physical health issues, employers encourage that person to be off work,” Being chief executive officer Irene Gallagher said.

“But if someone suffers depression, anxiety or becomes so mentally exhausted that they can’t get out of bed, a lack of support for mental health sick days means they need to hide their mental health so they can take time to hit the reset button.”

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Half of all Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetimes, and right now, an estimated 2.5 million Australians are battling a type of anxiety disorder, which is now the top issue that prompts people to visit a GP.

But instead of taking the time away from work when they need it, the majority of Aussies feel shame and push on instead.

“Invariably they slink back to work full of unwarranted guilt,” Ms Gallagher said.

“The time has come to confront workplace cultures where people need to hide their lived experiences of mental health issues because they fear being stigmatised or even sacked.”

A public holiday centered around mental wellbeing would encourage employers and employees to address workplace stigma, she believed.

Without encouraging workers to take time when they need it, the consequences can be significant – and so too can the costs to businesses.

According to Safe Work Australia data, 7200 people annually are compensated for work-related mental health conditions.

While it equates to just 6 per cent of total compensation claims, the cost totals more than $540 million each year.

Early intervention was critical in preventing mental health issues from developing and stopping existing conditions getting worse, the organisation said.

new australian public holiday

Leadership and workplace culture expert Tammy Tansley said the public holiday idea had merit, especially given the cost of mental illness to workplaces in Australia tops $12 billion a year from lower productivity and other losses.

“As mental health is often viewed as something to be hidden, many employees will continue to work,” Ms Tansley said.

But a day off once a year would likely result in only a brief benefit, if any at all, without systemic change in organisations.

“This needs to be an ongoing conversation every single day – rather than a day off once a year where organisations can feel good that they’re doing ‘something’ about it,” Ms Tansley said.

“While raising awareness is good, it would be more powerful to have leaders model openness and vulnerability around mental health issues. The shadow of a leader is powerful – and employees take their cues from what leaders do, not just what they say.”

Formal policies surrounding access to support for mental health conditions, such as a written sick leave policy, would also help, she said.

“Workplaces should make sure that managers are trained in mental health first aid and that colleagues and employees know what to look out for if employees are showing signs that they are struggling,” Ms Tansley said.


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Key Moments from Trump’s Impeachment Hearing

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Heartbreaking; Another School Shooting Santa Clarita, CA

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Santa Clarita School SHooting

Santa Clarita, California, high school shooting leaves 2 students dead, multiple injured

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) — A 16-year-old boy shot five fellow students, two fatally, Thursday morning at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita before turning the .45-caliber handgun on himself, authorities said.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesperson said multiple 911 calls prompted firefighter-paramedics to respond about 7:40 a.m. to the school at 21900 Centurion Way.

Six students, including the gunman, were found in the quad suffering from gunshot wounds, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference. All six were transported to hospitals, where two of them, a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, were later pronounced dead.

The surviving victims were described as two girls, ages 14 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy.

In a tweet, Henry Mayo Hospital said it had received four patients.

Their names were not immediately disclosed. The sheriff said the deceased girl’s parents were at the hospital. He was notified of the second fatality during a press conference at the school.

Gunman turns .45 caliber on himself

According to sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener, surveillance video “clearly” shows the suspect pulling a semi-automatic handgun out of his backpack in the quad and shooting five classmates before shooting himself in the head.

Thursday was the gunman’s 16th birthday, the captain said.

He was listed in grave condition at a hospital, according to Villanueva.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, authorities released a description of the suspect as a manhunt got underway. Heavily armed deputies and an armored SWAT vehicle were seen at a home near the school, but it was unclear if the house was connected to the investigation.

The high school remained on lockdown for hours after the incident. Shortly before 11 a.m., lockdowns were lifted at all campuses in the district, as well as Rosedell and Highland elementary schools.

Central Park, at 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road, was being used as a reunification point for parents and students, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted an apology to parents, saying investigators need to interview “every student at Saugus HS” before they can be released.

In a statement, the White House said President Donald Trump was monitoring ongoing reports about the shooting.

“The White House encourages all those in the area to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders,” the statement said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted an expression of gratitude to the emergency responders.

“We simply should not have to fear for our kids’ lives when we drop them off at school,” the governor said. Addressing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Newsom asked: “How many more lives will be lost? How many more shootings will we have to endure? We need commonsense gun reform. NOW.”

Amid the chaos at the scene, the number of reported victims fluctuated throughout the morning. The sheriff later confirmed that six people were shot, including the gunman.


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WATCH: Trump’s Speech at the Economic Club of New York

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TRump's Econimc Speach Veterans DAy

Trump’s speech at the prestigious Manhattan club is expected to credit his policies for the strong economic numbers felt during his presidency.. Trump will likely highlight the low unemployment rate and high consumer confidence, as well as wage growth.

The president’s address is also expected to touch on his trade policies, the official said, amid continued negotiations over “Phase One” of a trade overhaul with China.

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