Bosses need insight into crises

BUSHFIRE-affected people, traumatised by property losses or near-death experiences, often bring their troubles to work.

‘‘Employees who become moody in their workplace and start behaving erratically are sometimes warned, then counselled, but may end up being terminated,’’ Nepean Community College principal Eric Wright said.

Mr Wright said after last October’s Blue Mountains bushfires, much counselling was available for people.

‘‘But it dawned on me that no one was thinking of employers,’’ he said.

‘‘What principal guidance could be provided for employers to understand their workers and how their mental health might be affected?’’

He spoke to the mental health research organisation, the Black Dog Institute, about hosting a seminar for employers.

The institute agreed and clinical psychologist Tony Merritt will speak at the seminar next Thursday.

‘‘It will discuss how to recognise what’s happening in the workplace; how to talk to people and what sort of help is available,’’ Mr Wright said.

He was so keen to get the message out he has distributed flyers to every business he can.

‘‘I walked to every shop in Westfield Penrith and in High and Henry streets,’’ he said.

‘‘My reception was really positive.

‘‘Their first reaction when they saw a flyer was to hesitate, but when they saw it was about the bushfire and mental health, they cottoned on.’’

The seminar, Supporting bushfire-affected staff, takes place at Nepean Community College, Shop 115B, Westfield Penrith, 9.45am next Thursday, February 27. Details: 4724 9000 or principal@ncc.nsw.edu.au

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