Category Archives: Mental Health

What You’re Getting Wrong About Burnout

Source: Liz Fosslien, MIT Sloan Management Review, August 26, 2021
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The burnout crisis is here, but many managers are failing to address the root causes of stress for employees.

…As an expert on emotions at work and head of content at Humu, a company focused on workplace behavioral change, I help leaders and managers improve well-being within their teams. Over the past year, burnout has become a top concern within organizations, and for good reason. In 2020, 71% of employees experienced burnout at least once. Across Humu’s enterprise customers, 62% of employees have reported feeling overwhelmed by work responsibilities, and 32% have said they are emotionally drained. And research from Qualtrics shows that stress and burnout are the main reasons people are thinking of leaving their jobs in the coming months and year — a time economists have already dubbed “The Great Resignation.”

In response, many leaders have started offering additional vacation time, established “no meeting” blocks on the calendar to give employees a break from back-to-back video calls, and encouraged people to take breaks throughout the day.

These are all helpful measures, but on their own, they’re usually not enough to turn things around for exhausted employees. That’s because work overload is only one cause of burnout. Too often, organizations fail to acknowledge — let alone address — other dimensions. The Maslach Burnout Inventory, the first clinically based measure of burnout, also measures cynicism and feeling ineffective at your job. And our research at Humu shows that lacking a sense of meaning and not receiving the emotional support you need to thrive are also strongly related to feeling stretched too thin….

The Dark Side of Leadership and Workplace Mistreatment: A review of Creativity and Innovation

Source: Vahid Mehraein, Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, no. 1, 2021

From the abstract:
The critical role of social influence in determining creativity and innovation is undisputed in the scientific circles of organizational behavior. Research has typically tended to focus on positive leader behaviors and positive social influences on creativity and innovation and has generally concluded that such behaviors promote these often-desired outcomes. In contrast, our work takes an unorthodox approach by bringing together research on the dark side of leadership and workplace mistreatment to join the conversation of creativity and innovation with darker perspectives of leadership and organization. In this study, we begin by defining the dark side of leadership and then provide a comprehensive systematic review of 163 empirical studies that address this topic. These studies address 35 leadership and workplace variables (abusive supervision, authoritarian leadership, aversive leadership, close monitoring, coercive power, conflict with co-worker, controlling supervision, counterproductive work behavior, defensive silence, despotic leadership, destructive leadership, directive leadership, hubristic leadership, incivility, jeer pressure, knowledge hiding, laissez-faire leadership, linguistic ostracism, Machiavellian leadership, management by exception (active), management-by-exception, management-by-exception (passive), mobbing, narcissistic leadership, organizational politics, ostracism, overconfident leadership, passive leadership, psychopathic leadership, relationship conflict, self-serving leadership, sexual harassment, supervisor undermining, workplace bullying, workplace deviant behavior) known to predict negative employee and organizational outcomes. This paper reports the main effects but also summarizes the results of mediating and moderating variables and provides useful taxonomies. Finally, recommendations for future research directions provide insights into areas worth considering.

Abusive Supervision and Employee Empowerment: The Moderating Role of Resilience and Workplace Friendship

Source: Ayesha Arshad, Peter Y. T. Sun, Fabrice Desmarais, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, March 30, 2021
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From the abstract:
Several studies have explored why employees leave their organization in the face of abusive supervision. However, there is a lack of research on what makes employees continue with employment despite being affected by abusive supervision. This study responds to the calls made to analyze multiple mechanisms that employees use to cope with abusive supervision. It addresses this gap by examining employees’ psychological and social resources that can mitigate the effects of abusive supervision. We specifically consider employee psychological and structural empowerment, as well as resilience and workplace friendship. This is a time-lagged study using a sample of 146 postgraduate students who have a minimum of 2 years of work experience. Utilizing the tenets of conservation of resources theory, we find that damage to psychological empowerment plays a significant role in diminishing the work engagement and creativity of employees, as compared to structural empowerment. We also find that workplace friendship plays a significant role in weakening the damaging effects of abusive supervision on structural empowerment. Future studies should consider other psychological and social mechanisms that can mitigate the effects of abusive supervision. Moreover, organizations should work toward developing a culture of sharing and support between coworkers.

The prevalence of work-related suicides varies by reporting source from the National Violent Death Reporting System

Source: Corinne Peek-Asa, Ling Zhang, Cara Hamann, Jonathon Davis, Carri Casteel, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 64, Issue 7, July 2021
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From the abstract:
Introduction
Both suicides overall and work-related suicides are increasing in the United States, and efforts to reduce suicide risk will require an understanding of the frequency and role of work in suicides. This study examines the incidence of occupational suicides using the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), which identified the role of work in suicides using the traditional death certificate as well as from death investigations.

Methods
NVDRS suicides among those aged 16 through 65 from 2013 through 2017 were examined to determine if the death certificate identified the death as work-related, if the death investigation identified a job problem as a suicide circumstance, and if the death investigation indicated that the job problem was a crisis at the time of the suicide.

Results
Overall, 1.13% of death certificates identified the suicides as work-related, 2.34% of suicides included a job crisis, and 11.2% a job problem, and proportions did not vary over the years of the study. Overlap between the death certificate and death investigation was very low, with only 0.21% of suicides identified as related to work by both sources. Identification of work-relatedness varied by source for demographic characteristics, mechanism of suicide, and occupation. For example, the death certificate identified 2.1% of suicides among those working in protective services as work-related, but death investigations identified 15.2% as having a job problem.

Conclusion
Work-related factors may be associated with a far higher proportion of suicides than previously documented.

Stress at Work: Individuals or Structures?

Source: A C L Davies, Industrial Law Journal, Advance Access, April 23, 2021
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From the abstract:
Stress is a significant practical problem in modern workplaces. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), more than half of all working days lost to ill health each year are attributed to stress, depression or anxiety. This article offers an overview of the occupational psychology literature on workplace stress, focusing on the job demands–resources or JD-R model, developed by Demerouti et al., and highlighting two important points: first, that stress at work is not just about excessive job ‘demands’ but also about inadequate ‘resources’ to cope with those demands; second, that stress-related ill-health is not just a matter of vulnerability on the part of the individual worker, but is also about the way in which the workplace is organized. The article then draws on these insights to offer a critique of the way in which health and safety law and tort law approach workplace stress, arguing that both bodies of law are overly focused on treating stress as a matter of individual vulnerability. It concludes by drawing out some broader implications of the occupational psychology literature for areas of employment law less obviously related to workplace stress, and for casual or platform working.

Does Going Back Into the Office Freak You Out?

Source: Amy Silver, Harvard Business Review, April 23, 2021
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With companies considering redesigning physical office spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments, chances are, depending on your job, your sector, and your leadership team, at some point you’ll need to go in to work. And this might be making you anxious. As we try to socialize and adjust to yet another “new normal” by engaging with people at work like we did in a pre-pandemic world, the exact focus of our worries and fears will vary. To manage your fears, there’s a few things you can do.

  • Understand what impact fear can have on your work. When our fear system is activated, we go into fight-or-flight mode. This means we can become distracted, our thoughts become more muddled, and decision making becomes more biased as our brain tries to make short cuts and we are more likely to make bad decisions.
  • Learn how to manage your fear. Be compassionate to yourself and know that it’s okay to feel this way. Then recognize your triggers and reactions. Does being in a crowded elevator scare you? Or running into coworkers when you go to fetch your coffee?
  • Separate your “fear” voice from what you want to do. Fear’s job is to keep us safe, and it does that by pushing us to choose short-term, protective behaviors (like running away, or avoidance) in a given situation rather than behaviors that will serve us in the longer term (facing something more rationally).

The Retention of Educators of Color Amidst Institutionalized Racism

Source: Ain A. Grooms, Duhita Mahatmya, Eboneé T. Johnson, Educational Policy, Vol 35, Issue 2, 2021
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From the abstract:
Representing approximately 20% of the workforce, educators of color (EOC) leave the field at a rate 25% higher than their White counterparts. Despite workforce diversification efforts, few studies investigate the psychosocial consequences of navigating racialized school climate as reasons EOC may leave the workforce. This study relies on survey data collected from educators of color (paraprofessionals through superintendents) across the state of Iowa. Applying a critical quantitative research design, we examined factors that link racialized school climate to their job satisfaction and psychological well-being. Findings indicate that a racialized school climate has a significant, direct effect on EOC’s race-based stress and professional racial self-efficacy. We argue that solely focusing on the retention of educations of color acts as a distraction from dismantling the institutionalized racism that continues to permeate our school systems.

Related:
How race-related stress could be driving educators of color away from the job
Source: Ain Grooms, The Conversation, April 13, 2021

When teachers of color experience high levels of race-based stress in schools, they can also have an increasingly negative sense of belonging, according to new research.

For the study, we analyzed survey data from educators of color across Iowa. To get at whether they were experiencing race-based stress, we asked whether the educators felt supported raising concerns with their peers about racism in schools or if they felt the need to ignore or avoid it. I conducted this research along with my colleagues – education researcher Duhita Mahatmya and community and behavioral health professor Eboneé Johnson.

Teachers reported less support from colleagues than did principals. Over 75% of the teachers in our sample (175 out of 229) reported a negative sense of belonging, especially when they thought school districts would not devise policies to actively address equity and racism.

Opinion: A Shift in Nursing Home Residents to Younger Psychiatric Patients

Source: Don Martin, Undark, March 9, 2021

The pandemic’s toll on nursing homes has opened up beds that younger people, often with mental illnesses, are filling.

One year ago, a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, became an early battleground for the U.S. coronavirus outbreak. The disease has since decimated nursing home populations — more than one-third of the Covid-19-related deaths in the U.S. have been nursing home residents and staff. Virtually unnoticed is what has followed: In some nursing homes, a shift has occurred in the type of residents who live there, and Covid-19 is one of the reasons.

As older residents die from the pandemic and as more families choose to keep elderly relatives at home, some of these facilities are accepting more younger patients, including some with drug addictions and mental illness. Some patients have schizophrenia. Some have psychosis. This change in clientele can have a dramatic impact on the daily functioning of nursing homes, a change that administrators and staff may be unprepared to handle.

Job Stress and Health of Elementary and Secondary School Educators in the United States

Source: Paul A. Landsbergis, Elina Shtridler, Amy Bahruth, Darryl Alexander, NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, Volume 30 Issue 3, November 2020
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From the abstract:
Elementary and secondary school educators face many work stressors, which appear to be increasing due to economic, political, and social trends. Therefore, we analyzed data from a 2017 national American Federation of Teachers survey of U.S. education staff, including data from two New York School districts that have adopted collaborative labor-management practices. The national American Federation of Teachers sample of educators reported significantly higher prevalences of several work stressors and poorer physical and mental health compared to the U.S. workers overall, adjusted for age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Compared with educators nationally, educators in districts with collaborative labor-management practices did not have a consistently higher or lower prevalence of work stressors or poorer health. Findings suggest the importance of reducing work stressors among U.S. educators. Results should be interpreted with caution due to the low educator survey response rate.

Sustaining Behavioral Health Services Through the Pandemic

Source: Karmen Hanson, LegisBrief, Vol. 28, No. 31, August 2020

….At any given time, approximately 20% of Americans live with a mental health disorder. Because of the potential for people to develop a psychological disorder due to pandemics like COVID-19, state legislatures, health departments and the federal government are implementing a variety of approaches to help…..