New framework for workplace mental health, wellbeing

The U.S. surgeon general addressed quiet quitting, the "Great Resignation," and the shift in how Americans live and work while underscoring workplaces' functional role in promoting the health and well-being of workers and communities.

An estimated 160 million people make up the U.S. workforce, and the average full-time worker can spend about half of their waking life working. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed the nature of work and the relationship that workers have with their jobs, according to an Oct. 20 news release. 

Chronic stress caused by disrespectful or cutthroat workplaces negatively affects workers' mental and physical health. Current research indicates that 76 percent of workers reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition. Additionally, 84 percent of workers report at least one workplace factor that harmed their mental health. 

According to the American Psychological Association, 81 percent of workers say they will look for workplaces that support mental health, including 30 percent who say that employer support for mental health will factor into their job decisions. 

The framework for mental health and well-being in the workplace highlights five essentials to help organizations develop, institutionalize, and update policies and practices to support workers. 

  1. Protection from harm: Creating conditions for a physically and psychologically safe environment.
  2. Connection and community: Fostering positive social interaction and relationships in the workplace.
  3. Work-life harmony: Deconflicting professional and personal issues. 
  4. Mattering at work: People want to know they matter to those around them and that their contributions are valued. 
  5. Opportunities for growth: Investing in human capital development encourages enthusiasm and collaboration. 

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, said that leaders have an opportunity and the power to make workplaces engines for mental health and well-being.

"It will require organizations to rethink how they protect workers from harm, foster a sense of connection among workers, show workers that they matter, make space for their lives outside work, and support their growth. It will be worth it, because the benefits will accrue for workers and organizations alike," Dr. Murthy said. 


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