Our experience at work will always have an impact on our mental health, either in a positive or negative way, and to lesser or greater extents. The relationship is indisputable. Yet, it is difficult to draw direct causation between the two. Is it even our job that is causing harm to our mental health or is it something else in our environment? Are some jobs worse than others for our mental health? If so, what makes them so bad? Do only specific workplace factors have an effect while the others are irrelevant?
Addictions are a heavy topic. We all have some opinion about it, know someone who struggles with it, or have heard about it on the news (“crack-smoking mayor of Toronto” anyone?). Addiction involves the compulsive use of substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, or behaviours such as gambling, shopping, or sex, which are done compulsively and interfere with daily life.
Peer support refers to a mutually beneficial relationship whereby individuals who have experienced, or who are experiencing mental illness or mental distress, give and receive support to bring about a desired social or personal change (Solomon, 2004). The relationships between peers are valued for their reciprocity, and allow for sharing of experiences, and support (Mead, Hilton, & Curtis, 2001). Often, one peer in the relationship is further along their road to recovery and uses their experience to support others who are in need (Davidson, Chinman, Sells, & Rowe, 2006). How can we adopt this in the workplace?
We just heard about this interesting new app created by The London Service Collaborative, Mind Your Mind and CAMH called Be Safe. This app allows individuals to create a crisis safety plan, and connects individuals who are experiencing mental health and addiction challenges to resources in their community (currently only in London, Ontario). It also allows medical professionals to access a person's medical information, like medications and dosage information, in the event of a crisis when an individual cannot communicate this themselves.
According to this recent article in the Globe and Mail, a report published in Quebec is highlighting the long-lasting benefits that psychotherapy can have on symptoms of depression and anxiety. The article mentions how psychotherapy is more cost-effective and long-term than medications, yet, medications are the first line of treatment offered to many Canadians when they are experiencing mental health challenges.
We often we hear that our past will determine our future. To create a positive future for ourselves, we volunteer, engage in new opportunities, educate ourselves and learn from our mistakes. In job interviews, we speak convincingly about our positive experiences which make us strong candidates. We focus on the most impressive aspects of our resume, with the option of not mentioning any less-than-ideal situations in past positions. Fortunately, we have some control over what others may know about us by being selective about what we choose to disclose. This was not, however, an option when it came to police checks.
This article, published in the New York Times, raises some important points about the often unrealistic expectations placed on employees. This article does a good job of highlighting research that supports how long hours and high pressure actually hinders productivity instead of promote it.
How many hours a day do you spend at work? Out of your total number of hours, think about your level of productivity. Were you focused and productive for all those hours? How many hours did you spend perusing the internet? How many hours did you spend thinking about your evening plans? Or being anxious about your afternoon presentation? Staring at a blank page/screen wishing you were in your bed because you feel sick? These questions bring us to the topic of presenteeism – the act of physically attending work, but not being mentally present.
Many of us may have heard of or seen service animals working with people to help them do the things they need to accomplish in their day. Most often, we see service dogs with people who have a visual impairment, helping them to navigate their environment and make difficult tasks easier to manage. What we may not have heard about before are service dogs for people who have a mental illness.