According to The Mental Capital and Wellbeing report 2008, ‘an individual’s mental capital and mental wellbeing crucially affect their path through life’. Mental wellbeing and a healthy mental capital are vital in the successful running of our society, our families, and our communities. A healthy mindset influences the way we behave, the way we socialise, our physical health and our thought patterns. All of these areas become affected and damaged when work-related stress caused by excessive pressure is not recognised, supported or addressed in the workplace.
To clarify; pressure isn’t always a negative thing! The right amount of pressure creates focus, drive, and motivation, and it pushes you to achieve your goals (Yerkes Dodson law 1909). We know that we can benefit from an amount of pressure in our lives; it gives a positive and fulfilling state of mind. However, when the pressure becomes excessive and unbalanced; when the stress increases and becomes too much, and we feel that we cannot cope, it starts to have a negative impact.
Continuous exposure to long-term excessive pressure, not only has an emotional effect, but also a physical effect. Stress causes a lack of functioning within the area of the brain associated with memory and the regulation of behaviour, and can lead to mental and physical health conditions such as depression, anxiety or cardiovascular disease (as noted in the Whitehall II studies)
In the U.K., 500 thousand people are absent from work every year with stress, depression and anxiety conditions. This, according to the Stevenson-Farmer review 2017, costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion, the Government between £24 billion and £27 billion, and the economy between £74 billion and £99 billion per year. This are huge reasons why we should be addressing this issue!
The Deloittes review 2017 highlights easy and clear ways to measures the cost that absenteeism has on organisations. However, it is also important to measure the cost of presenteeism caused by poor mental health; those who just about manage to get into work, but are unable to function at their best, with low productivity and low contribution. To address this, organisations and employers need to create healthy and inclusive workplaces; with interventions that are supporting and encouraging, whether employees have a health condition or not. Doing this improves engagement, creates a positive and proactive workforce and a working environment that will thrive and progress.
In relation to The Mental Capital and Wellbeing report 2008, I agree with the Stevenson-Farmer review 2017. It is time we find ways in academia, health, and the work environment to join up and work collectively such as:
- Having more joined up discussions around data sharing, using common language, and using shared pathways.
- Bridging the gap between academics and practitioners, the world of work and the world of academia.
- Embedding consistent and constant education within organisations and institutions by using approaches and tools backed firmly by grounded theory and up to date research.
- Establishing more transparency at work around mental health between employers and staff.
So that we all move forward with mental health, creating a culture change and an awareness that becomes common practice within happy, and healthy, work environments.
For further reading please click on the links:
Mental health and employers | Deloitte UK: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/public-sector/deloitte-uk-mental-health-employers-monitor-deloitte-oct-2017.pdf
Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/thriving-at-work-a-review-of-mental-health-and-employers
Eustress, distress, and interpretation in occupational stress: https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/02683940310502412
On the validity of the Yerkes-Dodson law: https://search.proquest.com/openview/07fde559709a193bd0a8166066a83360/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1817340&login=true
Mental capital and wellbeing: making the most of ourselves in the 21st century: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/292450/mental-capital-wellbeing-report.pdf
Cohort Profile: The Whitehall II study: https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/34/2/251/746997