The protection of mental health in the workplace
When it comes to employee mental health most organisational focus has been predominantly in two areas; a) Promotion - breaking down the stigma to open up the conversation around mental health, and b) Treatment - developing effective tertiary interventions for those who need it. However, there might be another angle that hasn’t received as much attention, mental health protection!
Research has advanced that, losses in our mental health are predictive of increases in mental illness. As such, If we can seek opportunities to elevate our mental health, this is predictive for declines in mental illness. Furthermore, those that can elevate or maintain high levels of positive mental health are more likely to recover from an affective disorder.
We need to remember that mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. Langishuing is a prime example; as someone could be free from mental illness, but it doesn’t mean they are happy and thriving. Or conversely, if someone has been diagnosed with a mental illness, they can still flourish and thrive.
In a review, it was found that using positive psychology interventions could be an effective strategy in combination with other forms of evidence-based treatment in enhancing subjective psychological wellbeing. For example, psychological capital, flow or using strengths in a new way.
What does this mean in practice?
Interventions focusing on positive psychology and the protection of positive mental health, can be considered in combination and as part of a wider mental health strategy with promotion and treatment.
By developing our knowledge, research, and delivery of positive psychology interventions (PPI). Self-development PPIs could reach large populations and take us a step closer in providing a cost-effective way in advancing our efforts in the protection of mental health in the workplace.
Developing our workplace measures for those who are ‘flourishing’ and ‘languishing’ now, could support us in understanding who is at a higher risk of mental illness in the future. I.e. the more work we do in understanding how our people are now, the more focus we can put into the protection and elevation of mental health through positive psychology and evidenced-based interventions.
We also need to advance our understanding of the why and the how of training transfer interventions. It isn’t enough to just put training on and hope that it sticks, we must learn to recognise the organisational and individual barriers to effective initial transfer and on-going transfer attempts.
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