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Working stress driving you mad?

Mental health is one of those medical conditions that can be difficult to ascertain either the severity or likelihood of a relapse. The underlying cause of the health condition may well be the work environment.  Co-workers, deadlines, responsibilities and team work all take their toll on one’s mental health.  A toxic work environment of bullying, over expectation and job insecurity can be huge influences on an employee’s of mental health. This is not limited to blue collar workers; senior managers are caught up in delivery deadlines, ROI expectations, human resource problems and the burden of board expectations.

1 in 5 New Zealanders suffers from a mental health condition. Most of these people are employed.  “The Mental Health Commission considers that employment is a critically important contributor to recovery from mental illness. Many people affected by mental illness succeed in employment without any special consideration or support.”  Ensuring an environment that works to improve workplace mental health is likely to help retain these people in the workforce.  Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health focus appears to be on getting those who are more severely affected back into the workforce. While this is important, more resources should be allocated to supporting the 4 out 5 who are employed, but are vulnerable to relapse or mental health deterioration brought upon by workplaces stresses.

In underwriting an individual’s mental health for insurance, insurer’s  would be better off asking questions about their employer’s actions, support and resources for dealing with employee mental health, rather than asking just for the individual’s historical mental health records.

Job security and a healthy work environment is one of the best medicines for mental health.

Some references:

  • A wonderful resource for both employers and employees help deal with workplace health issues www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com (Unfortunately the legal resources are naturally Canadian in focus)
  • You can test your knowledge about some workplace mental health issues. Take the Mental Health Quiz!
  • Mental Health Commission: A literature review: Prevention and Possibilities. www.mhc.govt.nz