Let's take care of our mental health

2007

When I first wrote about the importance of HR managers – and all managers – helping their employees stay healthy, I never imagined that I'd read about the tragedy that befell Virginia Tech the following week.

As people from Blacksburg to Seoul try and make sense of this senseless act, I'd like to apply my comments from last week to this very disaster and the parallels with the workplace.

Let's face it, while hardly a uniquely American problem, the United States does seemingly tend to have more than its fair share of mass violence including on campus, or at the workplace. However, according to Vittorio di Martino's Violence at Work study, violent crimes in the workplace are in decline.

As companies try to implement wellness programs as a substitute for subpar or reduced medical coverage, how well prepared are human resource departments – or companies in general – to handle the psychological health of their employees? Generally speaking, no.

Some larger companies offer some free psychological assistance to their employees, for example, a toll-free hotline service where employees could call if they felt under pressure and simply needed to talk – be it due to stress in their personal lives or professional lives.

I'm no psychologist, but this sort of service, or mandatory holidays for employees in high-stress environments might help alleviate employees who might need that extra bit of help instead of letting them fall through the cracks as happens all too often.

While it's impossible to say with certainty that violent crimes in the workplace can be eradicated, it's also inappropriate to suggest that every stressed colleague is a potential time bomb.

However, it's totally right on target to suggest that we keep a pleasant, professional environment by taking care of our mental health and also taking a look out for our colleagues.

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