Mental Well-being at Work
Are you flourishing or languishing? According to Shaun Robinson, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation New Zealand, these words are a useful way of determining mental health and wellbeing. Previously, good mental health was simply the absence of mental illness. “This is far too restrictive”, Shaun said at a presentation on World Mental Health Day at Work.
He defined flourishing as:
- positive emotion
- emotional stability
- vital, energetic
- resilient and optimistic
- good self-esteem
- a sense of meaning and direction
- positive relationships.
Languishing he defined as:
- mostly low mood
- low self-esteem
- poor competence
- lack of meaning, directionless
- dysfunctional relationships.
How are we doing?
Quoting several surveys from New Zealand and Australia Shaun said that:
25%of people considered themselves flourishing.
25%said they were doing okay.
30%said they were languishing
20%said they were currently experiencing some kind of diagnosable mental illness.
(This last figure is from: Ministry of Health. (2006). Te Rau Henager: The New Zealand Mental Health Survey )
55% just “doing okay” or languishing means that many workers are simply not engaged at work.
Insurance companies, he said, consider mental health to be the No 1 issue for workplaces.The business case for wellbeing at workshows there is a huge cost in lost productivity, low morale, sick leave and staff churn. A PwC analysis in Australia found that workplaces who take effective action to create mentally healthy workplaces can expect a return on investment of $2.30 for every dollar spent.
(PricewaterhouseCoopers. (2014). Creating a mentally healthy workplace Return on investment analysis.)
What can YOU do about the high numbers who are just doing okay or languishing?
In the past, the answer has been to treat individuals; give them counselling, therapy or medication. However languishing is a community concern and it requires a community solution. The Mental Health Foundation has developed a toolkit for workplaces calledThe Five Ways to Well-Being at Work
The five ways are:
- Connect: talk and listen, be there, feel connected
- Give: your time, your words, your presence
- Take notice: remember the simple things that give you joy
- Keep learning: embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself
- Be active: do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood.
These are great objectives for growing flourishing individuals and workplaces and yet people don’t easily do them.
The key ingredient
The ability to communicate well, to manage and talk about emotions and difficult topics, is the key ingredient of the Five Ways. People hesitate to listen when strong ‘negative’ emotions are involved. Emotions are a highly significant ingredient in difficult conversations and yet few people have learned the skills to manage such interactions. People can learn to manage their own feelings and respond well to others who express strong or challenging emotions.
Creating a healthy, flourishing workforce requires skills training to hold difficult conversations and manage the emotions involved. This is where the Thriving Under Fire programme can help.
Contact us to see how we can help you build the skills for yourself and your work teams.