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Employee well-being, mental health and careers guidance Pete Robertson Lecturer/Programme Leader Postgraduate Diploma in Career Guidance and Development.

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Presentation on theme: "Employee well-being, mental health and careers guidance Pete Robertson Lecturer/Programme Leader Postgraduate Diploma in Career Guidance and Development."— Presentation transcript:

1 Employee well-being, mental health and careers guidance Pete Robertson Lecturer/Programme Leader Postgraduate Diploma in Career Guidance and Development

2 Mental health conditions at work Incidence: 16 % + at any one time Economic costs to business: £26 billion p.a. – Under-performance & presenteeism – Sickness absence – Early withdrawal from workforce Total costs to wider society: £ 115 billion p.a. – As above plus... – Medical and care costs – Tax lost + welfare benefits costs incurred (Foresight Mental Capital Project, 2008; Sainsbury Centre 2007; Friedli & Parsonage, 2007)

3 Sources of Stress Workload Hours/shiftwork Travel Physical risk Psycho-social risks – Bullying – Sexual harassment – Discrimination – Isolation Tasks – Repetition – Control – Emotional labour (Service sector) Uncertainty – Ambiguity – Restructuring – Job insecurity Culture – Performance management – Use of alcohol/drugs

4 Careers and stress Career concerns are known to be a source of work stress (e.g. Baruch, 2009) Metaphors of frustration – Glass ceilings – Golden cages Work/life balance – Bi-directional conflict Older workers – Network erosion Hush...don’t tell your clients about the health risks...

5 “ Employment is nature's physician, and is essential to human happiness” Galen of Pergamon, Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher, 172 AD “Working is, for most patients, a positive clinical outcome and can be an intervention in its own right” Royal College of Psychiatrists

6 Ergotherapy W.H.R. Rivers Robert Graves

7 “ There is a strong evidence base showing that work is generally good for physical and mental health and well-being. Worklessness is associated with poorer physical and mental health and well-being. Work can be therapeutic and can reverse the adverse health effects of unemployment. That is true for healthy people of working age, for many disabled people, for most people with common health problems and for social security beneficiaries...Work is generally good for health and well-being.” (Waddell & Burton, 2006: ix).

8 To summarise so far... Healthy workers encounter psycho-social health hazards at work that make them stressed or mentally ill ! Going to work helps unemployed people with mental health conditions get better !

9 read the small print... Does unemployment cause mental health conditions ? o Yes, it is a very powerful causal factor but... o Some reverse causality (health selection for job loss or re-employment) o A minority are happily unemployed Does work cause good health ? o It tends to but is not a panacea o Poor quality work or insecure may have neutral or detrimental effects o Some individuals at certain times may be vulnerable to psycho-social health hazards

10 Marginal work Most accessible to unemployed with health conditions Insecure, temporary, low status, servile Underemployment – pay, hours, qualifications, experience May lead to unemployment, not secure work Results in fractured employment biographies

11 Problems with the stress management industry  Locates responsibility for causes and management of distress within the individual  Focus on anxiety ignores the complexity of emotion at work  Implies work is usually pathenogenic  Huge evidence base shows unemployment is associated with greater mental distress

12 Necropolis

13 The Whitehall studies Michael Marmot & colleagues explored health in the British Civil Service Found a status/income gradient in physical and mental health Social inequality has health consequences within organisations Control at work is a key issue e.g. Stansfeld et al (1999)

14 Mental health promotion (WHO, 2004) No health without mental health Health is more than the absence of illness Requires a climate that respects and protects civil/political/economic/social/cultural rights The workplace is a key arena for public mental health interventions

15 Well-being and productivity Recent research suggests a healthy workforce leads to enhanced productivity because of: Employee engagement and co-operation Sustainable performance e.g. Harter, Schmidt & Keyes (2002)

16 Key messages about employees and mental health Unemployment: usually more stressful than work The quality of work is very important Income/status gradients at work affect health Work is a key arena for mental health promotion Positive well-being may promote sustainable productivity

17 Interventions and wider challenges Retention Flexible working Reasonable adjustments Training Support services: – Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) – Occupational health (OH) – Vocational rehabilitation (VR) – Occupational therapy (OT) – JobCentre Plus/DWP services – Executive coaching/mentoring Stigma, media and culture Organisational culture – Performance management – Bullying – Attitudes to mental health Lack of coherence in support services ?

18 A role for career guidance ? Three thoughts about the potential for career related support to contribute to the management of mental health issues at work.

19 A holistic approach to career and mental health counselling may be desirable (Zunker, 2008) – Career and personal concerns overspill & interact – Work dominates waking hours & defines identity

20 Stress management vs career guidance approaches Strengthen the individual e.g. CBT based training How does work fit into my life ? Leave the job? Go part time ? Reduce risk exposure e.g. Culture change; Tackle bullying; Work design Work adjustment Can I renegotiate my role ? Can I develop through training ?

21 = Career guidance has several features consistent with a recovery based approach to mental health Future focus Identify resources (skills/experience/contacts/support) Focus on choice & goals Exploring work identity Encourages networking offers hope strengths based approach promotes sense of agency rebuilding self-concept builds social capital

22 For more information Royal College of Psychiatrists Work and mental health online resource:

23 References BARUCH, Y. (2009) Stress and Careers. In C.L. Cooper, J. Campbell Quick & M.J. Schabracq (eds) International Handbook of Work and Health Psychology 3 rd edition. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell FORESIGHT MENTAL CAPITAL AND WELLBEING PROJECT (2008) Final Report. London: The Government Office for Science. FRIEDLI, L. AND PARSONAGE, M. (2007) Building an economic case for mental health promotion: part 1. Journal of public mental health, 6, 3:14-23. HARTER, J.K. SCHMIDT, F.L. & KETYES, C.L.M. (2002) Well-being in the workplace and its relationship to business outcomes: A review of the Gallup studies. In C.L.M. Keyes & J. Haidt (eds) Flourishing: The positive person and the good life (pp205-224). Washington DC: Amercian Psychological Association. SAINSBURY CENTRE FOR MENTAL HEALTH (2007) Work and wellbeing: developing primary mental health care services London: SCMH STANSFELD, S.A., FUHRER, R., SHIPLEY, M.J. & MARMOT, M.G. (1999) Work characteristics predict psychiatric disorder: prospective results from the Whitehall II study. Occupational and environmental medicine, 56, 5: 302-307. WADDELL, G. & BURTON, A.K. (2006) Is work good for your health and well being ? London: Department for Work and Pensions WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (2004) Promoting mental health: concepts, emerging evidence, practice. Summary report. Geneva: WHO. ZUNKER, V. (2008) Career, work and mental health: integrating career and personal counselling. London: Sage.

24 Thank you... Any questions or comments ?

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