by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.
Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness
Emotional wellness is crucial for healthcare providers, organizations, and corporations. It plays an important role in promoting a positive work environment and improving employee satisfaction and productivity. By prioritizing emotional wellness, companies can enhance their employees' mental health, reduce stress levels, decrease burnout, and foster better communication and collaboration among employees. This article examines the benefits of incorporating emotional wellness training into the workplace and presents The National Center for Emotional Wellness's strategy for successful implementation.
Depression has become the leading cause of illness and disability worldwide. Recognizing this trend, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for proactive initiatives to address mental health issues in the workplace. In response, The National Center for Emotional Wellness (NCEW) has developed live, dynamic, tailored training programs for healthcare providers, organizations, and corporations.
Mental health issues in the workplace have a profound effect on individuals and organizations. The economic costs of mental health conditions are a significant factor; estimates place the annual cost of lost productivity due to depression and anxiety alone at over $1 trillion. (Deloitte, 2020)
Beyond economic consequences, mental health issues adversely impact job performance. Individuals experiencing mental health challenges may struggle to concentrate, make decisions, and effectively manage their workload, leading to a decline in productivity. Additionally, employees facing mental health problems are more likely to be absent from work, placing additional strain on colleagues and team dynamics. (Goh et al., 2015).
The impact of mental health goes beyond individual employees to the overall organizational climate. Companies that fail to address mental health concerns risk fostering a negative work environment, leading to decreased morale and job satisfaction among employees. In contrast, when organizations prioritize the mental well-being of their staff, they create a supportive and inclusive culture that encourages employees to flourish and perform at their best.
The NCEW has identified specific strategies that organizations can take to promote emotional wellness, keep people functioning during challenging times, mitigate long-term suffering, and improve productivity. The following areas are addressed in the NCEW's training programs:
Emotional Wellness in the Workplace places a strong emphasis on attendees' developing an awareness and understanding of their feelings and emotions, which has been shown through extensive research to have a positive impact on mental health and relationships (Lopes, Salovey, & Strauss, 2003). Participants are encouraged to explore their feelings and gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their triggers, and how they influence their daily lives. Various techniques, including mindfulness and journaling, are taught to help individuals observe and accept their emotions without judgment. Additionally, the benefits of open communication with loved ones or therapists are discussed as a means to further enhance emotional well-being.
The NCEW's program also addresses the critical connection between cognitions and thoughts and feelings and emotions. It is widely recognized that our thoughts have a significant impact on our emotions and actions (Beck, 1976). Attendees learn various strategies, including cognitive restructuring, to identify and confront negative or distorted thought patterns, replacing them with more rational and positive ones. This approach has proven to be highly effective in alleviating stress, anxiety, and depression (Butler, Chapman, Forman, & Beck, 2006).
The impact of one's physical actions and behaviors on emotional well-being is another area of focus. Movement and exercise have demonstrated their potential for reducing stress and improving mood (Salmon, 2001). Attendees acquire techniques such as incorporating physical activity into their daily routines, practicing relaxation exercises, and using physical outlets like yoga to release tension. Engaging in physical activities and exercise not only boosts mood-enhancing endorphins but also helps alleviate physiological symptoms of stress and anxiety. Regular exercise can also increase self-confidence, improve mood, help one relax, and lower symptoms of mild depression and anxiety. (Mayo Clinic, 2022)
The program additionally addresses the role of spirituality and religion in emotional wellness. Research has shown that spirituality can enhance mental health and improve emotional resilience (Smith, McCullough, & Poll, 2003). Attendees can explore strategies such as prayer and engaging in religious or spiritual practices that align with their beliefs. Moreover, fostering social connections within a religious or spiritual community can provide a support network and a sense of belongingness, both of which contribute to emotional well-being.
Finally, in the event of a workplace crisis, attendees can learn to implement Acute Traumatic Stress Management™ (Lerner & Shelton), a response protocol that aims to reach people early, during times of crisis, to ease emotional pain, keep people functioning, mitigate ongoing suffering, and restore human stability.
The NCEW program aims to address key areas that contribute to emotional well-being for healthcare providers, organizations, and corporations. This program is in response to the WHO's call for new measures to tackle mental health issues at work. By implementing such training, companies can promote employee satisfaction and productivity while improving mental health in the workplace.