02 Dec VETERINARY WELLBEING ALLIANCE NEWSLETTER, ISSUE 8
GEORGIA EDITION • Newsletter • Issue 8, 2022
Dear GVMA Members,
Here is the latest update from the Veterinary Wellbeing Alliance, with curated content to help veterinary professionals focus on their wellbeing. Subscribers receive this resource in addition to complimentary access to Listeners On Call.
If you have questions or comments on the newsletter, the service from Listeners On Call, or the Veterinary Wellbeing Alliance, you may contact Dr. Keri Riddick, CEO of Georgia VMA, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Adrian Hochstadt, VMAE CEO, at email@example.com.
To view a video on the Veterinary Wellbeing Alliance, click here.
Are you ready for a win?
It can be easy to view change as a negative stressor, but this mindset risks leading to difficulties adjusting.
“How we train our mentalities to process change can greatly affect the way we view ourselves and others,” the Listeners On Call team writes. “By making room for the possibility of good, we allow the bad to be released more freely.”
Being able to recall our past accomplishments can be a form of self-care in the midst of change, boosting our confidence in our capability and courage. At the same time, giving ourselves room to adjust and fall short as we get used to new situations can improve our mental health and allow us to view change as an opportunity rather than chaos.
For more advice on how to make change a positive experience, read the full article from Listeners On Call.
5 ways employers can improve workplace mental health
One in five U.S. adults experiences a mental illness each year, resulting in lost work and productivity. Employees say they want the companies they work at to implement strategies—such as flexible work hours, autonomy, appreciation and mental health benefits—to improve wellbeing.
“Mental health issues and employee burnout are steadily increasing and both companies and individuals are heavily affected,” Erik Pham, founder of the health and wellness website Health Canal, writes in Forbes. “Creating an integrated approach of benefits in and outside of the office focused on both physical and mental health may be [the] best chance of improving productivity and overall wellness for the individual.”
Pham gives advice for employers to help improve workplace mental health:
- Offer mental and physical health benefits. This might include designating spaces for meditation and rest, offering free fitness classes in the workplace, providing therapy programs and offering mental wellness apps.
- Create regular check-ins and open communication. Employers can create employee satisfaction surveys, facilitate scheduled check-ins with management and mental health workers, and encourage employees to speak up about issues by acting on the feedback employees give.
- Encourage autonomy and build a flexible workplace. This might involve letting employees create their own schedules, including employees in decisions that directly affect them, asking their opinions and congratulating them on work well done.
- Reduce workloads. Employers can restrict email communication to work hours, discourage overtime, increase paid time off and schedule surveys to evaluate burnout rates.
- Implement education and training. Staff and management should have access to training on how to use their benefits so they can take full advantage of these opportunities, Pham says.
Most workers want to work with a company that actively supports employee mental health, survey shows
Eighty-one percent of workers in a recent survey said they’re seeking jobs with companies that actively support employee mental health.
“A typical adult spends one-third of their life working—it’s not possible for employees to leave issues at the door when they arrive at work,” said Dennis P. Stolle, a senior director at the American Psychological Association, which commissioned the report. The Harris Poll conducted the survey of about 2,000 U.S. adults.
Eighteen percent of workers described their workplace as somewhat or very toxic, and one-third said they’d experienced physical violence, verbal abuse or harassment at work in the past year.
At the same time, 71% of respondents said they believe their employer is more concerned about employees’ mental health now than they were in the past. “This is good news,” Stolle told Healthline.
In addition to mental health support, the survey showed workers would also like:
• More flexible work hours (41%).
• A culture that respects paid time off (34%).
• The ability to work remotely (33%).
• A four-day work week (31%).
Companies face shortage of mental health care providers on employee health plans
Companies trying to meet their employees’ mental health needs in the wake of the pandemic are worried their teams won’t be able to get the services they need, a recent survey found.
While four in five employers reported they had enough primary care providers in their health plan’s network, only 44% said they had enough behavioral health providers, according to the survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“That is the number that for me shows how bad access to mental health care providers is,” said Matthew Rae, an associate program director at KFF. “That, in conjunction with the huge increase in demand for mental health services.”
The 2022 KFF Employer Health Benefits Survey analyzed the responses of a random sample of 2,188 employers with at least three employees.
Among large employers—those with at least 200 employees—14% said more workers were using services to treat substance use in 2022. Among all surveyed employers with 50 or more workers, 17% said they had seen an increase in the number of employees who had requested leave for mental health conditions under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
In addition to covering mental and behavioral health care services, 81% of large companies said they have an employee assistance program for mental health services, while 44% said they offered employees mental health self-care apps.
Why mental health days won’t solve burnout
Mental health days have become more common since the pandemic, and many companies are showing greater flexibility allowing employees to take days off for mental, not just physical, wellbeing.
But to combat burnout and other mental health issues, companies need to look at what’s causing the problems in the first place, Jonathan Malesic, author of the book “The End of Burnout,” writes in The Atlantic.
In a study on mental health days in the Australian state of New South Wales, researchers found that nurses who said they’d taken a mental health day in the past 12 months were more likely to be shift workers, to spend much of their working hours on their feet, to have endured workplace abuse and to feel they have accomplished less at work because of emotional problems.
“In short, the nurses who took mental health days were having serious difficulties at work—and unsurprisingly had 55% greater odds of planning to leave their job,” Malesic notes. “In this case, employees’ need for a mental health day signified a bigger problem in the workplace.”
While occasional mental health days are good, “they have little impact on burnout,” said Michael P. Leiter, who researches burnout. “If people are going back to the same mismatches that have brought them to burnout, a bit of time off will be a nice bit of fluff.”
To truly combat burnout, Malesic says, employers should implement manageable workloads with plenty of days off, and they should even consider options like four-day workweeks.
“Time off from work is a good thing,” he says. “But workers deserve something much better than a mental health day: jobs that don’t strain their mental health in the first place.”
How can companies support employees who survive hate crimes?
While they may not show it, people targeted by hate crimes often experience trauma that will ultimately affect their work if they don’t get necessary support, Bhavik R. Shah writes in the Harvard Business Review.
“While mental health resources are becoming more prevalent across organizations, there is still a gap in how we create a culture where survivors of race-based violence feel safe to return to the office,” writes Shah, a principal at Mind Share, a nonprofit supporting workplace mental health. “What do you do if an employee feels completely unsafe in leaving their home? What accommodations can you offer if an employee is petrified to take the same public route where they were attacked? How can you provide employees a sense of comfort that their physical and mental health are a priority at your organization?”
Shah, who recounts his own experience being targeted in a racist hate crime in his suburban New York neighborhood, offers advice for companies to support team members who have had experiences like his:
- Start with a foundation of psychological safety. Leaders need to develop a sense of trust among their teams, provide transparency on employee responsibilities and include diverse perspectives in decision-making, Shah writes.
- Respond with empathy if an employee discloses being a survivor. After listening to what the person has to say—while avoiding creating solutions for them—ask them how often they’d like to check in about how the experience is affecting them at work. Use these check-ins to offer accessible resources.
- Offer flexible working arrangements. This may include allowing the employee to try a different schedule so they feel more comfortable leaving the house, offering additional time off and extending deadlines.
- Invest in tailored mental health resources. “If your organization doesn’t already have specialized mental health resources for historically marginalized communities, consider becoming a champion for adopting them,” Shah writes. This may mean diversifying your network of mental health providers, inviting speakers on mental health for a specific community or investing in diversity, equity and inclusion training.
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