Category Archives: Mental Health

Managing traumatic stress in the workplace

Source: Samantha Brooks, G James Rubin, Neil Greenberg, Occupational Medicine, Volume 69 Issue 1, February 7, 2019
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Recent years have seen a growing number of traumatic incidents occurring across the globe, with both natural disasters and acts of terrorism occurring more and more frequently [1]. Understanding the psychological impact of experiencing such an event, and how best to support people who may be suffering with post-traumatic distress or mental ill-health, is now more important than ever. While much of the research in this area focuses on trauma at the individual level, there is a growing literature which explores the impact of trauma from a group perspective [2].

Sleepy anger: Restricted sleep amplifies angry feelings

Source: Zlatan Krizan, Garrett Hisler, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, October 25, 2018
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From the abstract:
Despite extensive ties between sleep disruption, anger, and aggression, it is unclear whether sleep loss plays a causal role in shaping anger. On one hand, negative affect and distress frequently follow curtailed sleep, suggesting increased anger responses. On the other hand, fatigue and withdrawal also follow, potentially muting anger. To examine these competing possibilities, 142 community residents were randomly assigned to either maintain or restrict their sleep over 2 days. Before and after, these participants rated their anger and affect throughout a product-rating task alongside aversive noise. Sleep restriction universally intensified anger, reversing adaptation trends in which anger diminished with repeated exposure to noise. Negative affect followed similar patterns, and subjective sleepiness mediated most of the experimental effects on anger. These findings highlight important consequences of everyday sleep loss on anger and implicate sleepiness in dysregulation of anger and hedonic adaptation.

Related:
Even Occasional Sleep Loss Makes People Angrier
Source: Angie Hunt, Futurity, November 27, 2018

Losing just a couple hours of sleep at night makes you angrier, especially in frustrating situations, according to new research.

While the results may seem intuitive, the study is one of the first to provide evidence that sleep loss causes anger.

Other studies have shown a link between sleep and anger, but questions remained about whether sleep loss was to blame or if anger was responsible for disrupted sleep, says study coauthor Zlatan Krizan, a psychology professor at Iowa State University.

The research, which appears in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, answers those questions and provides new insight into our ability to adjust to irritating conditions when tired. ….

Protecting workers in the home care industry: workers’ experienced job demands, resource gaps, and benefits following a socially supportive intervention

Source: Linda Mabry, Kelsey N. Parker, Sharon V. Thompson, Katrina M. Bettencourt, Afsara Haque, Kristy Luther Rhoten, Home Health Care Services Quarterly, Volume 37 Issue 3, 2018
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From the abstract:
The Community of Practice and Safety Support (COMPASS) program is a peer-led group intervention for home care workers. In a randomized controlled trial, COMPASS significantly improved workers’ professional support networks and safety and health behaviors. However, quantitative findings failed to capture workers’ complex emotional, physical, and social experiences with job demands, resource limitations, and the intervention itself. Therefore, we conducted qualitative follow-up interviews with a sample of participants (n = 28) in the program. Results provided examples of unique physical and psychological demands, revealed stressful resource limitations (e.g., safety equipment access), and elucidated COMPASS’s role as a valuable resource.

“Who’s Caring for Us?”: Understanding and Addressing the Effects of Emotional Labor on Home Health Aides’ Well-being

Source: Emily Franzosa, Emma K Tsui, Sherry Baron, The Gerontologist, Published: August 17, 2018
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From the abstract:
Background and Objectives:
Interventions to strengthen the home care workforce focus on workers’ economic and physical well-being, without acknowledging the caring labor affecting emotional well-being. Our study examined workers’ perceptions of the emotional effects of caring work, coping mechanisms, and desired support.

Research Design and Methods:
We conducted 4 worker focus groups (n = 27). Moderators cross-checked codes and themes, and aides provided input through report-backs.

Results:
Building close, trusting relationships with clients was central to aides’ emotional well-being. Well-being was also influenced by relationships with client families and agency supervisors, work–life balance, and the level to which aides felt their work was valued. Aides were largely alone in managing job stressors and desired more communication, connection, and support from supervisors and peers.

Discussion and Implications:
Recognizing and supporting the emotional demands of caring work is crucial to strengthening the workforce. Policy makers and agencies must realign reimbursement systems, job descriptions, and care plans to include measures of emotional labor, improve communication between workers and supervisors, and provide training, mental health benefits, and peer support.

Are there health benefits of being unionized in late career? A longitudinal approach using HRS

Source: Jacques Wels, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: 28 June 2018

From the abstract:
Objective:
To assess whether unionization prevents deterioration in self‐reported health and depressive symptoms in late career transitions.

Methods:
Data come from the Health and Retirement Study (N = 6475). The change in self‐perceived health (SPH) and depressive symptoms (CESD) between wave 11 and wave 12 is explained using an interaction effect between change in professional status from wave 10 to wave 11 and unionization in wave 10.

Results:
The odds of being affected by a negative change in CESD when unionized are lower for unionized workers remaining in full‐time job (OR:0.73, CI95%:0.58;0.89), unionized full‐time workers moving to part‐time work (OR:0.66, CI95%:0.46;0.93) and unionized full‐time workers moving to part‐retirement (OR:0.40, CI95%:0.34;0.47) compared to non‐unionized workers. The same conclusion is made for the change in SPH but with odds ratios closer to 1.

Conclusion:
The reasons for the associations found in this paper need to be explored in further research.

Prison employment and post‐traumatic stress disorder: Risk and protective factors

Source: Lois James, Natalie Todak, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Online First, June 12, 2018
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From the abstract:
Objectives
To examine the prevalence of Post‐Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a sample of prison employees, investigate risk factors, and explore protective factors for PTSD.

Methods
We surveyed 355 Washington State Department of Corrections employees. The survey included the PTSD checklist for the DSM‐5 (PCL‐5), the Critical Incident History Questionnaire, and the Work Environment Inventory.

Results
We found 19% of the sample met the criteria for diagnosable PTSD. Several risk factors were associated with a higher PCL‐5 score, including exposure to critical incidents, and having greater ambiguity in the job role. Being happy with job assignments and having positive relationships with supervisors and coworkers were associated with decreased PCL‐5 score.

Conclusions
Prison employees have a PTSD rate equivalent to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and higher than police officers, suggesting the importance of developing programs for promoting resilience to stress, incorporating the knowledge gained on risk, and protective factors.

Can Mass Shootings be Stopped? To Address the Problem, We Must Better Understand the Phenomenon

Source: Jaclyn Schildkraut Margaret K. Formica Jim Malatras, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, May 22, 2018

The mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, happened nearly two decades ago, yet it remains etched in the national consciousness. Columbine spurred a national debate — from personal safety to the security of schools, workplaces, and other locations and to broader considerations of guns and mental illness. To this day, communities still are grappling to find solutions to the complex and multifaceted nature of mass shootings.