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Worker Role Changes Impact Mental Health

Workplace mental health and absence

Morneau Shepell finds-organizational change linked to physical and mental health sick leave | Maximize Human Capabilities | Functional Capacity Evaluation

Morneau Shepell has just released the results of a survey conducted in October 2016 to gain understanding and compare the perspective of working Canadians regarding workplace mental health and absence (1,018 respondents).  Two thirds (66%) of the employees surveyed experienced worker role changes due to employer organizational changes.  These organizational changes include team restructuring (39 %), downsizing/layoffs (35 %), job re-design (35 %), re-design of the physical office space (29. 5 %) and mergers (15 %).

Impacting job performance

Of those employees who have experienced a change, 40 % said it negatively affected their health and well-being and 30 % indicated that it impacted their job performance.  Of the organizational changes, job re-design had the strongest correlation to sick leave for both physical and mental health.

Additional assessments

Morneau Shepell’s survey also assessed workplace mental health issues and found that the employee respondents were currently or in the past experiencing depression (31%) and anxiety (28%) as the most prevalent conditions.

Millennials at greater risk

Additionally, sick leave for mental health concerns is more than two times as likely for employees age 30 and under, compared to the average likelihood of employees older than age 30.

What does the research tell us?

Through its research, Morneau Shepell found that 75 per cent of all respondents indicated work culture as the most important issue to address regarding mental health in the workplace. This issue ranked above the importance of employees' willingness to get help (71 %), employees' coping skills and resilience (70 %), reducing stigma among employees (65 %), reducing stigma among managers (65 %) and concerns about employees returning from disability leave (62 %).

MaxOT results analysis

As I read and digest the survey results I cannot help but draw attention to the fact that when an employee sustains an injury of illness, regardless of the type (e.g. back injury, diabetes), this will impact their worker role.  Worker role changes impact mental health.  Moving forward, for clinicians and case managers working with employees returning to work and staying at work, the more we pay attention to the worker role impacts and subsequent mental health impacts, the more likely we can facilitate  successful sustainable outcomes.

For full survey results:

Saturday, January 28, 2017
Posted by Lorraine Mischuk at 10:02 AM 0 | Comments

Did You Hear Me?

Did You Hear Me? | Maximize Human Capabilities | Occupational Therapy

Recently I was telling an individual something that is of importance and of an intimate nature to me. Unfortunately I am not confident that they  even heard me! So why do I write about listening? Because communication is such an integral part of our day whether at work or with our families and friends.

What happens to me when I feel that I am not being heard? Actually several things all in a matter of seconds.

The volume changes

For me the volume goes up and I become louder. However this is not always the case where some individuals will begin to disengage and the volume decreases as a transition to ending their end of the conversation.

The behavior changes

For me my body posture and facial expression changes. Though I am not looking in the mirror to see myself, I can feel the changes. My shoulders and neck become tight and I feel my forehead and eyebrows furrow. A wide range of behavior changes can occur. Think of small children and what you see and hear when they are not being heard!

What happens next?

It really depends on the context of the face to face communication and the context of the situation. Likely some level of trust has been violated.

For Active Listening tips – see the previous post "The Art of Listening"

Saturday, November 28, 2015
Posted by Lorraine Mischuk at 8:39 AM 0 | Comments

Yes I Can!

Yes I Can! | Maximize Human Capabilities | Occupational Therapy

What does self-efficacy mean in our daily lives?  If I believe I can do it, I can do it!  I  will overcome the obstacles in my way!

Several decades ago Bandura described self-efficacy as "a belief’ in one’s capabilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to meet situational demands".

Encountering obstacles

The majority of us will encounter obstacles on a daily basis.  With exposure, practice, success and even a little coaching from an external source we learn to overcome these obstacles. However we may encounter a time in our lives when the obstacles appear too great to overcome.  Such as when developing an unexpected illness and/or sustaining injuries which prevent us from working and carrying on in our daily lives.

Effects of illness or injury

As a clinician, I see a wide range of how an illness or injury affects my clients and their families.  Ten individuals can have the same diagnosis, yet it affects each individual in completely different aspects.  How is it that some individuals seem to be able to overcome such adversity and others not so, even when it appears that the illness or injury is less severe?

Psychosocial factor: self-efficacy

The old cliché "the mind is a powerful thing" is not that far off.  There are many psychosocial factors that potentially influence our ability to embrace the challenges of recovery and rehabilitation, and these factors are influenced by those around us and our specific circumstances.  Self-efficacy is one of these psychosocial factors.  Our challenge in rehabilitation is to change the individual's thoughts and beliefs from "no I can't" to "yes I can"!

Saturday, October 24, 2015
Posted by Lorraine Mischuk at 8:59 AM 0 | Comments

The Art of Listening

The Art of Listening | Maximize Human Capabilities | Occupational Therapy

In our daily lives we continually communicate – to our family, friends, co-workers, and within the communities where we live.  Yet in our daily communications, do we listen?  That is, are we really paying attention to what someone has to say?  This is especially important when an individual who is experiencing a mental health challenge is struggling to communicate.

Listening is a skill.  How we listen can have a huge impact in our communication process.

Be Interested

Rule number one – look genuinely interested in what the individual has to say.  If we are not looking at them because we are on our smart phones or  checking out what else is going on in the environment around us, the individual attempting to tell you their story quickly receives the impression that what they are trying to say is not important.  So put down the smart phone for a few minutes and provide the individual with eye contact. 

Body Language

Rule number two – use body language that is engaging.  Our facial expressions and body postures provide strong messages of non-verbal communication.  If we our body is facing or turned away from the individual they may feel that you are trying to get away from the conversation as quickly as you can.  Face the individual, and pay attention to your own facial expressions to ensure that they are accepting and engaging.  If you are not sure what this looks like, practice in a mirror!

Don't judge

Rule number three – be open to what the individual is telling you. So often we quickly formulate an opinion or judgment of the individual based on only a small portion of the story/information.  These judgments not only quickly bias our further receiving of the information, but also influence our body language and non-verbal communication.  So be patient and just listen to what the individual has to say with an open mind.

Don't worry, in the few minutes that it takes to listen to the individual, the information on our smart phone will still be there and I am certain that you will still catch what is going on in your immediate surroundings!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Posted by Lorraine Mischuk at 7:52 PM 0 | Comments

Fear – Who is in the Driver's Seat?

Fear - Who is in the Driver's seat? | Maximize Human Capabilities | Functional Capacity Evaluation

So what happens when we encounter something that we are afraid of?

Our unconscious reaction can be to avoid what we are afraid of with the hope that it will go away all by itself.  This may be helpful to a point however typically we will eventually encounter the situation that is at the root of our fear. 

Examples of fear

For example when one is recovering from a physical injury and have now been advised by the health care practitioners and/or the insurance company case manager that we have recovered sufficiently and it is time to embark on returning to the more demanding responsibilities of looking after our homes and families.  Or, even scarier still, it is time to go back to work!  The first thing that can go through one's mind is "Are you kidding me?!  I can't do that!  I am not even close to being ready with the pain that I still feel!"

Rebuild strength

All of the thoughts of fear and self doubt can creep in so quickly and unannounced.  By listening to the self-doubt we stay right where we are, surrounded by fear with fearful thoughts in charge of our daily lives.  Or, we can choose to encounter the fear a small piece at a time to gradually re-build our strength, resiliency and our daily lives.

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." – Eleanor Roosevelt

Please read the previous post "How Does Fear Assist Us?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Posted by Lorraine Mischuk at 10:46 AM 0 | Comments

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