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Psychological Health at Workplace

In: Business and Management

Submitted By poorvi
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Psychological health in the workplace

Including mental health in your business model is important to a healthy workplace. Poor mental health not only hurts the individual, it also reduces corporate profits. It's important that all levels of the workplace - including the Board of Directors, management, finance, and human resources departments - get involved to incorporate mental health at your workplace in order to ensure proper functioning of firm.
There is also a legislative requirement for employers to protect the mental and physical health of their employees. Many provincial occupational health and safety acts have been expanded to include harm to psychological well-being in the definition of harassment. In jurisdictions that do not have explicit legislation dealing with psychological health in the workplace, the general duty clause would apply.
The most important organizational factors that impact organizational health, the health of individual employees and the financial bottom line, including the way work is carried out and the context in which work occurs, are Psychological Support, Organizational Culture, Clear Leadership & Expectations, Civility & Respect, Psychological Job Fit, Growth & Development, Recognition & Reward, Involvement & Influence, Workload Management, Engagement, Balance, Psychological Protection, Protection of Physical Safety. Apart from the aforesaid factors, a key issue affecting an employee’s health is stress.
Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary defines stress as "the result produced when a structure, system or organism is acted upon by forces that disrupt equilibrium or produce strain". In simpler terms, stress refers to potentially negative physical or mental tensions experienced by a person. A stressor is any event or situation that an individual perceives as a threat; precipitates either adaptation or the stress response. Stress in the workplace can have many origins or come from one single event. It can impact on both employees and employers alike. The common categories of job stressors are Factors unique to the job, role in the organization, career development, relationships at work (interpersonal), Organizational structure/climate, Work-Life Balance.
Stress can have an impact on your overall health. Our bodies are designed with a set of automatic responses to deal with stress. This system is very effective for the short term "fight or flight" responses we need when faced with an immediate danger. Experiencing stress for long periods of time (such as lower level but constant stressors at work) will activate this system, but it doesn't get the chance to "turn off". The body's "pre-programmed" response to stress has been called the "Generalized Stress Response" and includes: * increased blood pressure * increased metabolism (e.g., faster heartbeat, faster respiration) * decrease in protein synthesis, intestinal movement (digestion), immune and allergic response systems * increased cholesterol and fatty acids in blood for energy production systems * localized inflammation (redness, swelling, heat and pain) * faster blood clotting * increased production of blood sugar for energy * increased stomach acids
There are many different signs and symptoms that can indicate when someone is having difficulty coping with the amount of stress they are experiencing: * Physical: headaches, grinding teeth, clenched jaws, chest pain, shortness of breath, pounding heart, high blood pressure, muscle aches, indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea, increased perspiration, fatigue, insomnia, frequent illness. * Psychosocial: anxiety, irritability, sadness, defensiveness, anger, mood swings, hypersensitivity, apathy, depression, slowed thinking or racing thoughts; feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or of being trapped, lower motivation. * Cognitive: decreased attention, narrowing of perception, forgetfulness, less effective thinking, less problem solving, reduced ability to learn; easily distracted. * Behavioural: overeating or loss of appetite, impatience, quickness to argue, procrastination, increased use of alcohol or drugs, increased smoking, withdrawal or isolation from others, neglect of responsibility, poor job performance, poor personal hygiene, change in religious practices, change in close family relationships.

Since the causes of workplace stress vary greatly, so do the strategies to reduce or prevent it. Job design is also an important factor. Good job design accommodates an employee's mental and physical abilities. Employers should assess the workplace for the risk of stress. Look for pressures at work which could cause high and long lasting levels of stress, and who may be harmed by these pressures. Determine what can be done to prevent the pressures from becoming negative stressors. Employers can also use the following dos and don’ts to address stress.
DO’s:
* Treat all employees in a fair and respectful manner. * Take stress seriously and be understanding to staff under too much pressure. * Be aware of the signs and symptoms that a person may be having trouble coping with stress. * Involve employees in decision-making and allow for their input directly or through committees, etc. * Encourage managers to have an understanding attitude and to be proactive by looking for signs of stress among their staff. * Provide workplace health and wellness programs that target the true source of the stress. The source of stress at work can be from any number of causes – safety, ergonomics, job demands, etc. Survey the employees and ask them for help identifying the actual cause. * Incorporate stress prevention or positive mental health promotion in policies or your corporate mission statement. * Make sure staff have the training, skills and resources they need. * Design jobs to allow for a balanced workload. Allow employees to have control over the tasks they do as much as possible. * Value and recognize individuals' results and skills. * Provide support. Be clear about job expectations. * Keep job demands reasonable by providing manageable deadlines, hours of work, and clear duties as well as work that is interesting and varied. * Provide access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for those who wish to attend.
DON’T’s:
* Do not tolerate bullying or harassment in any form. * Do not ignore signs that employees are under pressure or feeling stressed. * Do not forget that elements of the workplace itself can be a cause of stress. Stress management training and counselling services can be helpful to individuals, but do not forget to look for the root cause of the stress and to address them as quickly as possible.
Another organizational strategy to tackle stress is Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP is a performance therapy service for workers and their families that provides confidential, independent and professional solutions. It is highly effective as a prevention method by averting the escalation of stress and its debilitating effect on productivity.
Employees/Practitioners may at times even experience severe trauma post a critical event. Mental health problems prior to the traumatic event and weak social support increase the risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Prevention of work-related PTSD includes a sound organizational and psychosocial work environment, systematic training of employees, social support from colleagues and managers and a proper follow-up of employees after a critical event.

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