A self-service experience to build mental fitness for personal and professional development
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Nearly 50 percent of US workers cite their job as the primary cause of their poor mental health. In a recent Gallup Poll, a growing number of employees report extreme stress and anxiety at work, with forty percent stating that their job negatively impacts their mental health. Half of these workers are Millenials between 18-29 and account for over one-third of the US workforce.
With the incidence of poor mental health cases related to work rising, so does the cost. For example, the average worker calls off work unexpectedly, only 2.5 days annually. By contrast, those under severe mental strain take 12 days off each year, at an estimated $46.7 billion in lost productivity. This growing price tag has business experts wondering if a mental health pandemic is on the horizon.
The symptoms of anxiety and depression disorders include prolonged feelings of anger, stress, worry, and sadness. Left unattended, poor mental health can destroy employees’ teams, families, schools, and institutions. Currently impacting 41.5% of US adults, mental health disorders are a growing threat to workplace ideas and energy. Small businesses, which employ 50% of the American workforce, are at the most significant risk and paying a high price tag.
In the last year, global healthcare organizations are recognizing that we are on the edge of a potential mental health crisis at work and are calling on leaders to address their negative impact on the mental health of their employees.
“The workplace is the missing link in improving population mental health,” Dr. Leslie Hammer, co-director of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center and professor of occupational health psychology at Oregon Health & Science University, told ABC News.” The next steps are for workplaces to look hard at the culture around mental health support.”
In October, the US Surgeon General released the “New Framework for Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace,” reinforcing workplaces’ role in supporting their employees’ mental health and well-being. A similar recommendation was issued by the World Health Organization a month earlier, identifying three areas of change that would significantly move toward creating a positive mental health culture at work. They were:
1. Training for managers to improve their ability to recognize and respond to employees who might be experiencing emotional distress
2. Training for employees to improve their mental health awareness and knowledge
3. Easy access to mental health resources within existing health programs to improve individual mental health and reduce its stigma in the workplace.
It can be challenging for managers to initiate a caring conversation if they notice an employee struggling with negative thoughts and feelings when mental health, anxiety, and depression. Despite growing public recognition and acknowledgment of mental health illnesses, many organizations carry a negative bias towards their discussion at work. However, according to Johann Berlin, CEO at TLEX Institute, organizations were trending away from transactional interactions and repetitive tasks to more adaptive, empathetic, and connected cultures before the Covid19 pandemic and beginning to offer training to build mindfulness and emotional intelligence. Today, nearly 22% of employers now offer meditation and mindfulness training with access to apps like Calm or Headspace to reduce employee anxiety, improve working memory and increase creativity.
The business case for mindfulness training remains positive for personal wellness and relationships. But as Mark Sidney notes, the benefits are only possible through sustained practice. “Theory informs practice,” he states, “True mindfulness involves developing a deeper understanding of the processes and foundational attitudes necessary for mindfully living and working.”
Most of our attempts to make positive changes fail. Why? Because we stop at insight and don’t build habits. We lose momentum after the initial excitement of learning a new skill and return to our former practice. But recent advances in neuroscience research offer hope for lasting change by retraining our brains.
In his NY Times Best Selling book, Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine describes how building mental muscles activate and build new neural pathways. Using new functional Magnetic Resource Imaging (fMRI) technology, he describes the research that shows tissue growth in the region of the brain where positive emotions originate.
“All our negative emotions – stress, anxiety, self-doubt, anger, shame, and frustration – exist physically in our left brain. In contrast, positive emotions like peace and joy live in the right brain. Building and strengthening the neural pathways that create a positive mindset and reduce negative ones are called mental fitness.”
Mental fitness, by definition, is the ability to handle life’s challenges from a positive mindset with less stress. Using factor analysis, the breakthrough research by Positive Intelligence identifies three core mental muscles, radically simplifying mental fitness. Validated by more than 500,000 individuals, including students, CEOs, elite athletes, and sales, operations, and technology teams, the Positive Intelligence Mental program is proven to build measurable improvements within six weeks of practice.
Strengthening the mental fitness of individuals and teams may offer businesses a simple and lasting way to avoid the potential mental health pandemic and improve wellness, relationships, and performance in the process.
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Sidney, Mark. “More than Just Well-Being: The Business Case for Mindfulness at Work.” LinkedIn, LinkedIn, 8 Apr. 2019, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/more-than-just-well-being-business-case-mindfulness-work-mark-sidney. Accessed 8 Nov. 2022.
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“U.S. Surgeon General Releases New Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being In the Workplace.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 20 Oct. 2022, https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2022/10/20/us-surgeon-general-releases-new-framework-mental-health-well-being-workplace.html#:~:text=Vivek%20Murthy%20released%20a%20new,of%20workers%20and%20our%20communities. Accessed 7 Nov. 2022.
Yegiants, Dr. Anna. “Nearly Half of Workers Say Their Job Hurts Their Mental Health, Survey Finds.” Good Morning America, Good Morning America, 11 July 2022, https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/wellness/story/half-workers-job-hurts-mental-health-survey-finds-92672959.