Mental Health at Work
Modern workplace ‘mental health’ issues have moved beyond just being stressed.
Our automatic inherent self-preservation first line of defence mechanism as in “Fight, Flight or Freeze”, always works perfectly, it’s the way we are designed and we will never get away from that fact – the problem is the situations and circumstances that trigger this have changed.
The Sabre-Toothed Tiger and other predators of that era, has been replaced by the bully, the work-loads, insufficient time, a leaders’ style of ‘Motivation’, fear of loss (money, house, respect, relationship…) and of course failure.
Any time a ‘stressful’ situation presents itself, you can’t just run away and hide, until the stressor has gone elsewhere.
This leads to the insidious development of work-related self-doubt, self-worth, anxiety, fear and withdrawal because you can’t keep running away. There’s no guarantee that the next job is actually any better.
When scrutinised closely, the causes become clearer – It’s self-inflicted.
Bear with me here; the situations can be real though. Very Real. However, It’s actually about how a person thinks about the ‘threat’ and what it means to them. The reality of what has happened versus what that then means to an employee or manager, are two completely different things.
If an employee or manager doesn’t care about if something negative happens at work, then there is very little resulting stress, but if it does mean something to them, they will feel an array of stressful physical experiences.
The foundations of mental and physical health issues at work, often lies in the fact that many people feel they have to accept the situations and circumstances they are presented with, even though they know they inherently disagree.
Under these conditions they are effectively working against themselves and thus are living a lie at work and their thinking, communication and physical health reflects this.
Where a manager or employee is working against themselves, it cannot be done without consequence.
When stressed, people focus on the perceived outcome of something that has already happened or is happening. They ‘live’ in the future and see what they don’t want and then experience it. They also see less of what is actually happening around them. Their physiology can change to such a degree they ‘malfunction’ and become less effective and thus become a cost.
This is why disengagement and unproductive costs are so high. Unhappy and dissatisfied employees and managers cost the company and if they do eventually leave, it costs even more.
The larger the organisation the harder it can be to detect, hence the mazing growth in systems to help monitor what is happening in an organisation.
Research has continuously shown, that soft skills capability in management is crucial, however not all managers are equipped with the tools or even the desire to venture down the softer road approach, as many are results oriented, pragmatic ‘doers’ and desire achievement – the rest is just ‘noise’.
Businesses are biological in nature and each department has its own culture so a way to minimise mental health issues and reduce them dramatically, is by addressing the motivational needs of employees – one department at a time.