Most global workplace wellness initiatives have focused on physical health (from more fitness to more healthy food). But given people’s new hyper-connected, never-stop-working lives, and, as Paul Terry, executive VP and chief science officer, Staywell, noted, the fact that research suggests companies post-recession are putting greater emphasis on more “efficiency” and doing more with less (which is seldom being proactively addressed)—we have a once silent, but now getting louder, mental health, stress and “burnout” epidemic on our hands.
And because of this, the experts agreed that much stronger, and more engaging, mental health initiatives will be integrated into more workplace wellness in the future. It’s inevitable as the impact of stress on physical health (the root of so many high-cost chronic diseases) and productivity continues to skyrocket.
More stressful jobs and lives mean emotional wellbeing is taking its toll from East to West. Twenty percent of the U.S. population (at any given time) has a diagnosable mental health issue, and the research on the state of employee mental health/stress in places like Asia (Japan is very high risk) is sobering. In most parts of the world (particularly Asia), mental health has not been something people have been willing to talk about. But that’s also changing, and as more emotional issues grip more people, sheer need is leading to more openness.
And the mental health/stress crisis has, of course, led to more addiction and prescription
drug-taking: sleeping and anti-anxiety pill use just keeps on climbing.
But the experts agreed that they were excited about the research around neuroplasticity
and studies on the effectiveness of approaches like positive psychology, meditation and mindfulness. And they predict that we will see more—and more innovative—mental health and stress management strategies in workplaces in the near future…and not just for Silicon Valley and Wall Street executives.