I am writing this on World Mental Health day as my eye was caught by a piece in The Independent stating that: “Rates of anxiety and depression among employees has soared by nearly a third since records began in 2013, prompting calls for ‘urgent action”.
It is an interesting and important piece, but what caught my eye was the call for more investment in psychotherapies. One commentator opined that: “Compared with the potential cost to the economy in lost productivity, high quality psychotherapies are cheap.”
This may well be true but it seems to me that this is individualising the problem, suggesting that pressures in the workplace are simply inevitable and that people just need to be coached in how to be more resilient.
As someone who has suffered from depression in the past, I do understand that there is no simple cause and effect. I have benefited from talking therapies and would recommend anyone with mental health challenges to take the best professional help available but I don’t think we should let organisations off without some share of corporate responsibility.
Why can’t organisations create less stressful environments?
I am sure organisations can indeed create less stressful environments – here are some suggestions:
Let’s take a closer look at these.
- Stop treating people like robots – engage and empower them
- Move people’s focus towards the customer – not the clock – so that they feel more meaning in what they do
- Increase levels of autonomous teamwork and personal control.