Adults spend a majority of their waking lives at work, and if you find yourself in a negative work environment, you will more than likely have lower levels of positive mental health (PMH). This observation is not only anecdotal, but also scientific, as recent research has highlighted the effects of a negative work environment on an individual’s mental health. This may be even more true when it comes to those in the mental health field–who regularly must guide and process their cients through deep and powerful emotions.
In an article published in June 2017, “Positive Mental Health Among Professionals Working at a Psychiatric Hospital,” researchers studied a sample of 462 doctors, nurses, and allied staff who work in a psychiatric hospital setting. The paper’s lead author, Lousia Picco, in summarizing the study’s results, notes: “Age and ethnicity were significantly correlated with PMH total scores as well as various domain scores, while gender, marital and residency status and the staff’s position were only significantly correlated with domain specific scores.”
In other words, an individual’s age an ethnicity appeared to matter more on a person’s PMH at work than other variables. But there’s more . . .
The article notes that “[t]he workplace is a key environment that effects the mental health and well-being of working adults,” and the authors continue: “In order to promote and foster PMH, workplaces need to consider the importance of psychosocial well-being and the wellness of staff whilst providing an environment that supports and maintains overall health and work efficiency.”
Positive mental health and workplace burnout are trending topics nowadays, as industries attempt to find new ways to improve workplace efficiency and avoid high turnover rates. A starting point, as highlighted by the research, is for employers to understand that positive mental health is not just the absence of adversity or pain but is also the promotion of wellbeing and happiness. “An increased emphasis relating to this construct has seen a global shift,” the researchers note, “which acknowledges the need to address mental health as an integral part of improving overall health and wellbeing.”
Encouraging positive mental health in the workplace involves various dimensions.
“Research has shown that mental health and well-being are influential to various outcomes and aspects of life including an individual’s lifestyle and behavior, their social performance and interpersonal relationships, as well as contributing to improved quality of life, and successful aging,” the authors note. They go on to say: “Broadly speaking, PMH is a combination of emotional, psychological and social wellbeing that is necessary for an individual to be considered mentally healthy.”
That is to say, PMH in the workplace is subject to a person’s psychology, emotions, and social networks.
To conclude, positive mental health in the workplace remains an important concept for an individual’s workplace success. In the study looked at above, age and ethnicity appeared to predict PMH in the workplace more often than gender and marital and residency status, but one of the most important things is for employers to define PMH in a way that is not just the absence of negativity. Finally, PMH in the workplace helps employees avoid burnout and helps productivity and retain workers.
What could be better than that?
P. Louisa, et al. (2017). “Positive Mental Health Among Health Professionals Working at a Psychiatric Hospital.” PLoS One, 12(6).