A healthy mind means a healthy workplace
Dr Stuart Edser
Newcastle Psychology & Health
Mental health in the workplace is a serious concern and implementing a good mental health policy for all is very important. Every good employer knows that if you look after your people, they will look after you. Every employee knows that just a pinch of appreciation is a huge incentive to go the extra mile.
Beyond Blue’s analysis ‘Return On Investment’ (March 2014) shows that, on average, there is a 2.3 ROI for a successful implementation of a mental health program, that is, for every $1 spent, there is a $2.30 ROI to the bottom line.
The principal areas germane to workplace mental health are:
• bullying, harassment and intimidation
• inflexible rules
• unrealistic deadlines
• unmanageable workloads
• unclear directions – badly designed tasks
• unclear expectations
• lack of supervisor support
• interpersonal conflict
• poorly managed change – lack of communication
• management leadership style
Research shows that problems in these areas cause hugely detrimental effects to the lives of employees and are the major causes of absenteeism and resignation. Many of these mental health problems do not stay at work but follow employees home and spill over into personal and relational life.
Leadership styles are especially relevant here. Research is identifying that excessively directive styles appear to be correlated with higher levels of workplace interpersonal conflict and harassment. And the converse, where leaders want to be everyone's friend and avoid difficult conversations, contribute to more entrenched problems which eventually erupt into confrontation and conflict. Every week, psychologists see employees with significant issues. These range from clinical levels of depression to stress reactions and anxiety disorders, including panic attacks. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is not uncommon in bullying or harassment cases. Anxiety issues do seem to be a feature of workplace psychological treatment and despite there being effective anxiety treatment, it would be much better had they not arisen in the first instance. The effects of workplace psychological injury are often quite serious and can last for a very long time, affecting many areas of an individual’s life, not just their capacity to work. It is not uncommon for WorkCover to be involved in such difficulties. With careful management for the most part, such illnesses can be avoided.
Being conscious of the mental health of the workplace and doing something about it is not only the compassionate thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.
For further information please contact Newcastle Psychology & Health on (02) 4952 9777 or visit www.nph.net.au