Thursday, April 25, 2013

Healthy working and UK stress levels

There are more workplace health resources available these days than at any time in the past. From the Chartered Institute for Personnel & Development to the Health and Safety Executive, as well as the many providers of in-house training plus employee assistance programmes and so on, there's a wide range of products and services dedicated solely to workplace wellbeing and employee development.

And it all just goes to show how far the workplace has evolved - not to mention the pace with which it continues to evolve. If you look at episodes of, say, Life On Mars, you get a picture of how the workplace used to be - albeit in a somewhat caricature form - with all its pies, chips, lunchtime pints and almost opaque fugs of blue-grey cigarette smoke, it might as well be Mars (or another planet, at any rate) compared with today.

But we're not without our challenges right now - and as the recession showed, the prevailing economic situation can have an effect on the number of people suffering stress, and the levels to which they're experiencing it.

Luckily, it looks like we've (narrowly) avoided a triple-dip recession - but there are still concerns for wellbeing around stress levels, and longer working hours. Workplace health strategies are undoubtedly playing their part in making the situation better - but in terms of the road ahead, how much will still need to be done to fully address the issue of stress management?

New research suggests that stress could potentially lead to heart disease - which is genuinely concerning, especially in light of stress often being described as epidemic. However, the NHS and other health sites advise that the biggest dangers from stress come from dangerous coping mechanisms (smoking, drinking, overeating) that some people use to counteract it. But if a link is ever proven between stress and coronary heart disease, it will undoubtedly mean redoubled efforts to minimise it in the workplace to an even greater extent than now.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cancer care and the the things that make a difference

Very often when you're ill, it's the wee small things that can make a big difference. Think about the comforting soup a loved one brought last time you had flu, or a favourite film that cheered you up when you were under the weather. This interesting clip shows that the same is equally true for people who are undergoing treatment for cancer - that the little things can have the biggest significance.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mental health - removing stigma

Think, for a second, about just how far we've come in terms of how mental health is regarded.

Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, it was more or less something that just wasn't openly discussed. And common mental health problems such as anxiety, stress and depression - while they were just as widespread then as they are now - were something that few people would have spoken to their doctor about.

These days it's all changed dramatically. And well-known people from all sorts of glamorous occupations have talked candidly about their experiences. From the high-level government director of communications to the world-famous chat show host, nobody is immune from mental health problems, and the fact that people in jobs as high profile as these have shared so openly has really made a difference.

In the Guardian's health professionals network pages there is an article highlighting how much this is the case. It says:

According to independent evaluation of the campaign's first four years, people with mental health problems are experiencing less stigma and discrimination, are feeling more empowered and are enjoying more social contact

 However, according to the article, it seems that attitudes among mental health professionals may not be changing in line with the prevailing trend. The article does point out though that the recent Time To Change mental health campaign was aimed at the public rather than health professionals. There may, though, be other more complex factors which are discussed in some detail within the article itself. So click the link above and check it out.