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“The Power to make Workplaces Engines for Mental Health and Wellbeing.” – U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

While you might not wake up in the morning wondering what your workplace mental health and wellbeing might look like today, you might be anticipating how you believe the day ahead will turn out.

This is because your brain is a giant prediction machine. It likes the safety blanket of knowing what is most likely to happen next.

So, when life (and work) feels safe and secure, you can relax a little, confident that all is and will remain well.

But what about when there is a maelstrom of uncertainty swirling in the air?

You’ve had a horrible week sorting out a major booboo at work, the affected client remains very unhappy, and you’re left exhausted and feeling sick to the stomach.

Your promised promotion or transfer to the department of your dreams evaporated overnight leaving your future plans in tatters.

Your new supervisor is clearly related to Miss Trunchbull, and you wonder how long you can last before being eaten alive. You now dread going to work.

You’ve been working at capacity for the last 18 months, desperate for some time off and now you’re now being asked (read expected) to take on an additional role you fear will take you out of your depth without a lifebuoy. And you can’t swim.

The current major workplace challenges include:

  1. A tight labour market, meaning vacancies aren’t being filled and those who remain are being stretched too thin.
  2. A lack of sufficient support or resources to enable you to deliver your work
  3. A sense of inequity. You’re expected to step up for all overtime, but you’re rarely if ever paid for that.
  4. A lack of flexibility. One aspect of work life highlighted by the global pandemic has been the awareness that work is only one facet of our lives and that other elements- your family, relationships and other interests are playing second fiddle, leaving you feeling guilty, frustrated, and torn.
  5. Feeling invisible, undervalued, and unappreciated. Would anyone notice if you weren’t there?

Fortunately, there is now a growing awareness in many businesses and organisations that health and wellbeing is not just a nice-to-have, it is an essential and top priority business strategy vital to future success.

A few weeks ago, the current U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy published a new framework for Mental Health and Wellbeing.

I really like this model because it is human-centric and simple to understand, while encompassing all the important elements for thriving.

This model will provide some much-needed guidelines for consideration when seeking to implement the concepts into an individual workplace.

The model is made up of five elements, each grounded by two essential human needs.

1. Protection from Harm

  • Safety
  • Security

2. Connection and Community

  • Social support
  • Belonging

3. Work-life Harmony

  • Autonomy
  • Flexibility

4. Mattering at work

  • Dignity
  • Respect

5. Opportunity for growth

  • Learning
  • Accomplishment
The U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being

Which element resonates most strongly for you?

Thriving at work doesn’t have to be a pipedream.

There are many businesses and organisations who are already getting this right and it’s been a delight to see.

While there was much that wasn’t working well at work prior to the pandemic we now can-do things better and in a sustainable way, that has the potential to turn the tide on mental illness, burnout, and exhaustion.

Because work is not something to be endured.

It can be a place of positive challenge for growth and mastery, connection for support and belonging, and a way to contribute to something bigger than yourself. A place where you find purpose, meaning and fulfillment.

That’s why my workshops focus on what’s possible, after determining what your biggest challenges are and what you need based on the scientific evidence of what has been shown to work.

Did the pandemic help you to make new discoveries about the role of work in your life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Dr Jenny Brockis is a board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker, trainer, and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is available for purchase

If psychological safety, burnout prevention and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.

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