Book: Psychology at Work

Book Title:

Psychology at Work.

Author(s): Peter Warr (Editor).

Year: 2002.

Edition: Fifth (5th), Revised Edition.

Publisher: Penguin.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Applied psychology in work settings has made considerable progress in the 30 years since the original version of this book was published.

This new collection of essays aims to illustrate both the empirical and practical richness of the field as wellas its theoretical development.

The chapters cover psychological processes, the study of groups and workteams, and the nature of complex organisations as a whole.

Reflecting recent developments in psychology as well as society generally, topics range from skill and workload, shiftwork, personnel selection, training and careers, and the effects of new technology, leadership and management, to job stress and well-being, women in employment, corporate culture and processes of organisational change.

Book: Psychology in the Work Context

Book Title:

Psychology in the Work Context.

Author(s): Ziel Bergh and Dirk Geldenhuys.

Year: 2017.

Edition: Fifth (5th).

Publisher: Oxford University Press.

Type(s): Paperback.

Synopsis:

Psychology in the work context 5e is an introductory text for students of industrial and organizational psychology.

The book provides a comprehensive conceptual framework for understanding work behaviour and relationships at work and equips the student with a theoretical framework form which to analyse issues in the work place.

Book: Wellbeing at Work: How to Design, Implement and Evaluate an Effective Strategy

Book Title:

Wellbeing at Work: How to Design, Implement and Evaluate an Effective Strategy.

Author(s): Ian Hesketh and Cary Cooper.

Year: 2019.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Kogan Page.

Type(s): Hardcover, Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Stress at work is rising year on year, long hours are becoming the norm and presenteeism is increasing across all industries. This is not only having a detrimental effect on employee health, happiness and productivity, but is also impacting the bottom line. HR professionals are uniquely placed to manage this modern workplace crisis by implementing a wellbeing strategy.

Wellbeing at Work is an essential, practical guide to designing and implementing an effective strategy that will reduce employee anxiety, increase staff engagement and improve overall performance.

Written by leading experts in the field, Wellbeing at Work takes readers through the entire process, from explaining why a wellbeing strategy is necessary in a fast-changing world of work and technological transformation to building momentum around it, and monitoring, measuring and evaluating its impact. The book also identifies common pitfalls and problems, and how to avoid them, explores important legislative considerations and provides example exercises and tools to use throughout the process.

Full of advice, tips and insights from real-world case studies, this is the only book you will need to create a happier, more productive and more profitable organisation

Book: Mental Wealth: An Essential Guide to Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing

Book Title:

Mental Wealth: An Essential Guide to Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Author(s): Emi Golding and Peter Diaz.

Year: 2019.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Mental Wealth reveals an approach to workplace mental health and wellbeing that is proven to actually get results.

Despite having a huge impact on the productivity, profitability, and culture of organizations, there is very little guidance currently provided to managers and leaders on how to effectively manage workplace mental health and wellbeing. What does exist is often focused on the legal aspects of minimizing risk that it misses the psychology of workplace mental health and high performance and actually ends up creating risk for workplaces.

Mental Wealth is a guide for managers and leaders on how to manage employees who may be experiencing mental health issues in the workplace. Founders of the Workplace Mental Health Institute, Peter Diaz and Emi Golding, provide an essential foundation for addressing workplace mental health. Some of the essential foundations discussed include dispelling myths about workplace mental health, the factors that cause and contribute to mental health issues, the impact those factors are having on workplaces, the benefits of addressing mental health appropriately, and 7 Pillars for a mentally Wealthy Workplace. Mental Wealth also includes case studies and practical strategies that can be implemented for immediate results.

Book: Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace

Book Title:

Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers and Employees.

Author(s): Gill Hasson and Donna Butler.

Year: 2020.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Capstone.

Type(s): Paperback, Audiobook, and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Provides guidance for both employers and staff on promoting positive mental health and supporting those experiencing mental ill health in the workplace

The importance of good mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is a subject of increased public awareness and governmental attention. The Department of Health advises that one in four people will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Although a number of recent developments and initiatives have raised the profile of this crucial issue, employers are experiencing challenges in promoting the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. Wellbeing & Mental Health in the Workplace contains expert guidance for improving mental health and supporting those experiencing mental ill health.

This comprehensive book addresses the range of issues surrounding mental health and wellbeing in work environments – providing all involved with informative and practical assistance. Authors Gill Hasson and Donna Butler examine changing workplace environment for improved wellbeing, shifting employer and employee attitudes on mental health, possible solutions to current and future challenges and more. Detailed, real-world case studies illustrate a variety of associated concerns from both employer and employee perspectives. This important guide:

  • Explains why understanding mental health important and its impact on businesses and employees.
  • Discusses why and how to promote mental health in the workplace and the importance of having an effective ‘wellbeing strategy’.
  • Provides guidance on managing staff experiencing mental ill health.
  • Addresses dealing with employee stress and anxiety.
  • Features resources for further support if experiencing mental health issues.

Wellbeing & Mental Health in the Workplace is a valuable resource for those in the workplace wanting to look after their physical and mental wellbeing, and those looking for guidance in managing staff with mental health issues.

Why is it Important to Identify Mental Health Problems among Employees in Physically Demanding Jobs?

Research Paper Title

Physical working conditions and subsequent disability retirement due to any cause, mental disorders and musculoskeletal diseases: does the risk vary by common mental disorders?

Background

Physical work exposures and common mental disorders (CMD) have been linked to increased risk of work disability, but their joint associations with disability retirement due to any cause, mental disorders or musculoskeletal diseases have not been examined.

Methods

The data for exposures and covariates were from the Finnish Helsinki Health Study occupational cohort surveys in 2000-2002, 2007 and 2012.

The researchers used 12,458 observations from 6159 employees, who were 40-60 years old at baseline.

CMD were measured by the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12, cut-off point 3+).

Four self-reported work exposures (hazardous exposures, physical workload, computer and shift work) were combined with CMD and categorized as “neither”, “work exposure only”, “CMD only”, and “both”.

Associations with register-based disability retirement were assessed with Cox proportional hazards models for sample survey data adjusting for confounders over 5-year follow-up.

Additionally, synergy indices were calculated for the combined effects.

Results

Those reporting CMD and high physical workload had a greater risk of disability retirement due to any cause (HR 4.26, 95% CI 3.60-5.03), mental disorders (HR 5.41, 95% CI 3.87-7.56), and musculoskeletal diseases (HR 4.46, 95% CI 3.49-5.71) when compared to those with neither.

Synergy indices indicated that these associations were synergistic.

Similar associations were observed for CMD and hazardous exposures, but not for combined exposures to CMD and computer or shift work.

Conclusions

Identification of mental health problems among employees in physically demanding jobs is important to support work ability and reduce the risk of premature exit from work due to disability.

Reference

Halonen J.I., Mänty, M., Pietiläinen, O., Kujanpää, T., Kanerva, N., Lahti, J., Lahelma, E., Rahkonen, O. & Lallukka, T. (2020) Physical working conditions and subsequent disability retirement due to any cause, mental disorders and musculoskeletal diseases: does the risk vary by common mental disorders? Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. doi: 10.1007/s00127-019-01823-6. [Epub ahead of print].

Linking Risk of Suicidal Behaviour with Mental Disorders & Work Disability

Research Paper Title

Mental disorders and suicidal behavior in refugees and Swedish-born individuals: is the association affected by work disability?

Background

Among potential pathways to suicidal behavior in individuals with mental disorders (MD), work disability (WD) may play an important role.

The Researchers examined the role of WD in the relationship between MD and suicidal behaviour in Swedish-born individuals and refugees.

Methods

The study cohort consisted of 4,195,058 individuals aged 16-64, residing in Sweden in 2004-2005, whereof 163,160 refugees were followed during 2006-2013 with respect to suicidal behaviour.

Risk estimates were calculated as hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

The reference groups comprised individuals with neither MD nor WD.

WD factors (sickness absence (SA) and disability pension (DP)) were explored as potential modifiers and mediators.

Results

In both Swedish-born and refugees, SA and DP were associated with an elevated risk of suicide attempt regardless of MD. In refugees, HRs for suicide attempt in long-term SA ranged from 2.96 (95% CI: 2.14-4.09) (no MD) to 6.23 (95% CI: 3.21-12.08) (MD).

Similar associations were observed in Swedish-born. Elevated suicide attempt risks were also observed in DP.

In Swedish-born individuals, there was a synergy effect between MD, and SA and DP regarding suicidal behaviour.

Both SA and DP were found to mediate the studied associations in Swedish-born, but not in refugees.

Conclusions

There is an effect modification and a mediating effect between mental disorders and WD for subsequent suicidal behaviour in Swedish-born individuals.

Also for refugees without MD, WD is a risk factor for subsequent suicidal behaviour.

Particularly for Swedish-born individuals with MD, information on WD is vital in a clinical suicide risk assessment.

Reference

Björkenstam, E., Helgesson, M., Amin, R., Lange, T. & Mittendorfer-Rutz, E. (2020) Mental disorders and suicidal behavior in refugees and Swedish-born individuals: is the association affected by work disability? Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. doi: 10.1007/s00127-019-01824-5. [Epub ahead of print].

Workplace Injury: Musculoskeletal Conditions & Mental Illness

Research Paper Title

Prevalence of serious mental illness and mental health service use after a workplace injury: a longitudinal study of workers’ compensation claimants in Victoria, Australia.

Background

Serious mental illness is common among those who have experienced a physical workplace injury, yet little is known about mental health service use in this population.

This study aims to estimate the proportion of the workplace musculoskeletal injury population experiencing a mental illness, the proportion who access mental health services through the workers’ compensation system and the factors associated with likelihood of accessing services.

Methods

A longitudinal cohort study was conducted with a random sample of 615 workers’ compensation claimants followed over three survey waves between June 2014 and July 2015.

The primary outcome was receiving any type of mental health service use during this period, as determined by linking survey responses to administrative compensation system records for the 18 months after initial interview.

Results

Of 181 (29.4%) participants who met the case definition for a serious mental illness at one or more of the three interviews, 75 (41.4%) accessed a mental health service during the 18-month observation period.

Older age (OR=0.96, 95% CI 0.93 to 0.99) and achieving sustained return to work (OR=0.27, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.69) were associated with reduced odds of mental health service use.

Although not significant, being born in Australia was associated with an increased odds of service use (OR=2.23, 95% CI 0.97 to 5.10).

Conclusions

The proportion of injured workers with musculoskeletal conditions experiencing mental illness is high, yet the proportion receiving mental health services is low.

More work is needed to explore factors associated with mental health service use in this population, including the effect of returning to work.

Reference

Orchard, C., Carnide, N., Mustard, C. & Smith, P.M. (2020) Prevalence of serious mental illness and mental health service use after a workplace injury: a longitudinal study of workers’ compensation claimants in Victoria, Australia. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. pii: oemed-2019-105995. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2019-105995. [Epub ahead of print].

Mental Health & the HSE

Introduction

In their Annual Report and Accounts 2017/2018, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stated that there were “0.5 million work-related stress, depression or anxiety cases (new or long-standing) in 2016/17” (HSE, 2018, p.9).

What is the HSE?

“HSE is the independent regulator for work-related health and safety in Great Britain. We are committed to playing our part in the wider health and safety system to ensure that others play theirs in creating healthier, safer workplaces. We also deliver wider functions such as regulatory schemes intended to protect the health of people and the environment, balancing the economic and social benefits that chemicals offer to society.” (HSE, 2018, p.10).

HSE and Stress

HSE states that where (work-related) stress is prolonged it can lead to both physical and psychological damage, including anxiety and depression, and that work can also aggravate pre-existing conditions, and problems at work can bring on symptoms or make their effects worse.

They go on to state that whether work is causing the health issue or aggravating it, employers have a legal responsibility to help their employees. Work-related mental health issues must to be assessed to measure the levels of risk to staff. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable.
Some employees will have a pre-existing physical or mental health condition when recruited or may develop one caused by factors that are not work-related factors.

Employers may have further legal requirements, to make reasonable adjustments under equality legislation.

Information about employing people with a disability can be found on GOV.UK or from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in EnglandScotland, and Wales.

There is advice for line managers to help them support their employees with mental health conditions.

What is the Stevenson Farmer ‘Thriving at Work’ Review?

In 2017, the UK government commissioned Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer (Chief Executive of Mind) to independently review the role employers can play to better support individuals with mental health conditions in the workplace.

The ‘Thriving at Work’ report sets out a framework of actions – called ‘Core Standards’ – that the reviewers recommend employers of all sizes can and should put in place.

The core standards were designed to help employers improve the mental health of their workplace and enable individuals with mental health conditions to thrive.

By taking action on work-related stress, either through using the HSE Management Standards or an equivalent approach, employers would be able to meet parts of the core standards framework, as they would:

  • Form part of a mental health at work plan;
  • Promote communications and open conversations, by raising awareness and reducing stigma; and
  • Provide a mechanism for monitoring actions and outcomes.

Can Mental Health and Work-related Stress be Interlinked?

Work-related stress and mental health problems often go together and the symptoms can be very similar. For example, work-related stress can aggravate an existing mental health problem, making it more difficult to control. And, if work-related stress reaches a point where it has triggered an existing mental health problem, it becomes hard to separate one from the other.

Common mental health problems and stress can exist independently. For example, an individual can experience work-related stress and physical changes such as high blood pressure, without having anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. They can also have anxiety and depression without experiencing stress.

The key differences between them are their cause(s) and the way(s) they are treated.

  • Stress is a reaction to events or experiences in someone’s home life, work life or a combination of both.
  • Common mental health problems can have a single cause outside work, for example bereavement, divorce, postnatal depression, a medical condition or a family history of the problem.

However, an individual can have these sorts of problems with no obvious causes. Employers can help manage and prevent stress by improving conditions at work. But they also have a role in making adjustments and helping the individual manage a mental health problem at work.

Linking HSE’s Management Standards, and Mental Ill Health and Stress

Although stress can lead to physical and mental health conditions, and can aggravate existing conditions, the good news is that it can be tackled.

By taking action to remove or reduce stressors, an employer can:

  • Prevent an individual becoming ill; and
  • Avoid those with an existing condition becoming less able to control their illness.

HSE’s Management Standards approach to tackling work-related stress establishes a framework to help employers tackle work-related stress and, as a result, also reduce the:

  • Incidence of mental ill health; and
  • Negative impact of mental ill health.

The Management Standards approach can help employers put processes in place for properly managing work-related stress. By covering six key areas of work design employers will be taking steps that will:

  • Minimise pressure;
  • Manage potential stressors; and
  • Limit the negative impact that the work could have on their employees.

References

HSE (Health & Safety Executive). (2018) Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/reports/ara-2017-18.pdf. [Accessed: 18 November, 2019].

HSE (Health & Safety Executive). (2019) Mental Health. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/mental-health.htm. [Accessed: 18 November, 2019].

The Role of the Workplace & Employers in Mental Health

1.0 Introduction

Workplaces have habitually been seen as key settings for a range of health promotion initiatives targeted at working people.

Programmes that assist, for example, employees to reduce or give up smoking, eat more healthily or improve their fitness are common. However, the published research shows that there are few evidence-based interventions carried out in or by workplaces to address common mental health problems among employees.

The research literature on programmes that address the mental health of employees has been dominated by interventions targeted either at the whole population of employees, for example stress inoculation, or at those deemed to be at high risk of stress-related disorders, for example stress reduction or management.

These approaches mirror physical health interventions aimed at individual behaviour change and do not offer a model for organisational approaches to these issues.

2.0 The Workplace and Employers

While evidence tells us that workplaces are not the sole or principal setting for delivering interventions for people with common mental health problems, employers nevertheless remain key partners.

They do, after all, have a contractual and personal relationship with their employees, as well as statutory health, safety and disability accommodation duties.

The focus of employers’ role in the management of common mental health problems among employees should be to ensure that the working environment supports retention and rehabilitation. Recent policy recommendations have highlighted this responsibility.

For example, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) reviewed some of the literature on mental health and work, as suggested by experts in the field. In the absence of randomised control trials (RCT’s) on the topic under review, Workplace Mental Health suggests that employers take a strategic and co-ordinated approach to workplace wellbeing; that employers provide opportunities for flexible working; and that line managers promote and support wellbeing among staff (NICE, 2009).

The NHS Health and Wellbeing Review (DH, 2009) acknowledged not only that some employees are likely to have existing common mental health problems, but also that the nature of the working environment can sometimes have a negative impact on staff mental wellbeing. Among the review’s recommendations were that all NHS bodies should ensure that their management practices adhered to the Health and Safety Executive’s management standards for the control of work-related stress; that more investment was needed to attract people to take up occupational medicine; that all managers are trained in the management of people with mental health problems; and that all NHS bodies give priority to the implementation of the NICE guidance on workplace mental health in order to signal their commitment to staff health and wellbeing (NICE, 2009).

A parallel piece of work complemented the NHS Health and Wellbeing Review and described findings from the Practitioner Health Programme. The intervention is targeted at doctors and dentists with health problems who might be reluctant to seek help through usual channels. In its first year, a total of 184 practitioners within the M25 area had accessed the service: 57% with mental health problems and 23% with addiction issues (Crawford et al., 2009; Ipsos MORI, 2009; Smauel et al., 2009; DH, 2010).

The UK Government’s Foresight scientific review on Mental Capital and Wellbeing (Foresight, 2008) included a chapter devoted to work (Dewe & Kompier, 2008), recommending that employers foster work environments conducive to good mental wellbeing and the enhancement of mental capital, for example, by extending the right to flexible working. The chapter also highlighted the importance of:

  • Integrating occupational health professionals with primary care;
  • The collection of wellbeing data against Key Performance Indicators; and
  • Annual wellbeing audits.

All of these recommendations mirror the findings of a longitudinal cohort study on workplace factors that may help to reduce depressive symptoms (Brenninkmeijer et al., 2008). Work resumption, partial and full, and the employer changing the employee’s tasks, promoted a more favourable outcome. However, these findings emerged from the Netherlands, where the employer and employee have a legal obligation to sit together and discuss solutions to obstacles preventing return to work, an important factor associated with the decrease in long-term disability in that country (Reijenga et al., 2006). Perhaps a policy shift will be necessary to allow workplaces in the UK to play a central role in the management of common mental health problems.

3.0 References

Brenninkmeijer, V., Houtman, I. & Blonk, R. (2008) Depressed and absent from work: predicting prolonged depressive symptomatology among employees. Occupational Medicine. 58, pp.295-301.

Crawford, J., Shafrir, A. et al. (2009) A Systematic Review of the Health of Health Practitioners. Edinburgh: Institute of Occupational Medicine. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.iom-world.org. [Accessed: 24 November, 2019].

Dewe, P. & Kompier, M. (2008) Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project. Wellbeing and Work: Future challenges. London: The Government Office for Science. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.foresight.gov.uk/Mental_Capital/Wellbeing_and_work.pdf. [Accessed: 24 November, 2019].

DH (Department of Health). (2009) NHS Health and Wellbeing Review. Interim Report. London: Department of Health. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.nhshealthandwellbeing.org/InterimReport.html. [Accessed: 24 November, 2019].

DH (Department of Health). (2010) Invisible Patients: Report of the working group on the health of health professionals. London: Department of Health. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_113540. [Accessed: 24 November, 2019].

Foresight. (2008) Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project. Final Project Report. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.foresight.gov.uk/Mental_Capital/Mental_capital_&_wellbeing_Exec_Sum.pdf. [Accessed: 24 November, 2019].

Ipsos MORI (2009) Fitness to Practice: The health of healthcare professionals. London.

NICE (2009a) Workplace Mental Health. Available from World Wide Web: http://guidance.nice.org.uk/PHG/Wave12/82. [Accessed: 24 November, 2019].

Reijenga , F.A., Veerman, T. & van den Berg, N. (2006) Evaluation Law Gatekeeper Improvement. Report 363. Gravenhage: Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid NL.

Samuel, B., Harvey, S.B., Laird, B. et al. (2009) The Mental Health of Health Care Professionals: A review for the Department of Health. London: King’s College London.