In Hong Kong, the cultural stigma attached to mental illness is a barrier for people seeking help. Couple this with the fact that for most Hong Kong people, career and work are the top priority, workplace psychological health is fast becoming a business critical issue.
Mental health experts in Hong Kong agree that the psychological health of workers needs more attention, “Mental health disorders should be treated just like any other physical disorder and are common, says Professor Linda Lam Chiu-wa, president of the Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists. (1)
An overemphasis on work and success is seen as one of the leading causes of depression in the city.
But What Can Be Done?
Develop a Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplace Mindset
Whilst removing stigma around mental health issues and encouraging discussion are a good first step, this alone is simply insufficient to effectively address the complexities surrounding workplace psychological health and to realise the full benefits of a psychologically safe and healthy workplace.
“A psychologically safe & healthy workplace promotes individual, team and organisational psychological wellbeing… it focusses on psychological health from a practical, systemic perspective – balancing primary, secondary and tertiary intervention approaches and compliance obligations. Creating the systems and capabilities that enable employees and the organisation as a whole to sustainably flourish” says David Burroughs, Principal Psychologist and Managing Director of CommuniCorp.
Organisations need to take a risk-management approach to actively promote workplace psychological health. What is required is a commitment to develop real early intervention capabilities, as well as adopting workplace systems and processes that proactively address the psychosocial factors that influence psychological wellbeing at work – not just ‘ticking the box’ with an EAP provision or “Mental Health Day”. Whilst these are an important part of the process they are insufficient as stand alone strategies and tend to address symptoms not causes, nor do they address the complex psychosocial factors, culture, systems and practices that strongly influence wellbeing at work.
In the UK it is estimated that mental health related sickness absence costs the economy £8.4bn per year, and indirect reduced productivity costing a further £15.1bn per year. Although no recent studies can speak to the costs of poor workplace mental health to the economy of Hong Kong, it can safely be assumed that the costs are on a similar scale. In a 2014 survey on workplace mental health conditions conducted by University of Hong Kong 90% of respondents indicated said that they need better support at work. (2)
Professional Resilience, a strategic self-management capability, is a critical workplace performance factor and underpins good mental health. Resilient individuals are shown to have heightened skills in strategic thinking, problem solving capability, emotional intelligence, improved work engagement, higher morale and a healthy competitiveness in the face of obstacles.
It is realistic to expect we will experience times of mental distress; in the same way we experience periods of physical ill health. However, resilient individuals respond well to stress and maintain a highly productive and healthy state during these periods. Professional Resilience is not a skill that is developed by accident, but requires dedicated effort and knowledge to build capability and - much like a muscle, the capability is strengthened through use. Resilience is the product of a skilled response to stress.
Research demonstrates that those organisations who take practical steps to promote the psychological health of their employees typically return a stronger financial performance; 2.2 times more likely to be above the average. This improvement is demonstrated in increased performance, productivity, organisational cohesiveness and organisational and individual responsiveness to challenge and change.
The Business Case
The business case for investing in workplace psychological health and safety is strong. A 2014 report published by PwC states “through the successful implementation of an effective action to create a mentally healthy workplace, organisations, on average can expect a positive return on investment of 2.3. This is, for every dollar spent on successfully implementing an appropriate action, there is on average $2.30 in benefits to be gained by the organisation”.
However, the report continues to comment “in order to achieve a positive ROI, organisations will need to have addressed the critical success factors for change. In particular, implementing one or several actions is unlikely to be effective unless these is leadership and management support for the culture and mental health of the workplace.”
Although creating a mentally safe and health workplace is a complex road to navigate, the rewards, both to individual and organisation, are an Aladdin’s Cave of treasure
(1) South China Morning Post “How workplace pressure takes a toll on mental health” Published 12/12/14
(2) South China Morning Post “Hong Kong workers want more mental health support at work, study finds” Published 18/9/14
FeatureD Services provided by CommuniCorp
Using contemporary models of workplace wellbeing, stress and personal resilience, CommuniCorp’s resilience services have been designed to not only develop resilience capabilities in staff, but to assist managers and supervisors in developing the resilience and performance capabilities of their people. Designed to promote personal responsibility for wellbeing and performance, they can be integrated seamlessly into other organisational and professional development initiatives.
For further information about our highly regarded Resilience Services, download our brochure by clicking on the icon to the left. Alternatively if you would like to discuss our services, and how we can work with your organisation, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
As experienced workplace psychologists, CommuniCorp recognise the importance of employing a strategic approach to psychological safety and health in the workplace, and understand what is practically required for programs and initiatives to have a genuine impact on an organisations psychological health. Our Consulting Services provide exactly this advice. Through close consultation, guidance, and organisation-specific review and advice utilising international best practice frameworks and strategy, CommuniCorp consulting services provide organisations with a clear action plan for building and enhancing the psychological safety and health of their workplace.
For further information about our comprehensive Workplace Consulting Services, please download our brochure by clicking on the icon to the left. Alterntively, please email us on email@example.com to discuss your needs, and how CommuniCorp can help.