By Joy Hinman
Workplace safety is not just about keeping workers safe in potentially dangerous jobs, as important as that is. It begins and continues with mental health and ways to achieve it — for overall health — for employer, employee, and the workplace.
Across Canada October is Healthy Workplace Month –2013 Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month (CHWM). This year’s theme is Fostering Healthy Minds at Work…the mental health connection. http://www.nqi.ca/en/event-calendar/2013-canadas-healthy-workplace-month-chwm During each of the four weeks in October a different aspect of health is being focused on to encourage maximum mental health, wholeness and occupational safety for the individual and the organization. These include: Healthy Minds, a Safe Workplace, Physical Health and a Supportive Workplace Culture which includes family and community….
A quick internet search indicates that a wide variety of recommendations are being made for achieving improved mental health in the workplace. One aspect of wellness not often included in these lists is spiritual health. Yet, numerous studies show it is a key factor in achieving overall health.
The University of California, Riverside http://wellness.ucr.edu/seven_dimensions.html is a campus and workplace that incorporates spirituality as a key component of health. Here is how they frame spirituality and its role: “…values and beliefs that provide a purpose in our lives. … generally considered to be the search for meaning and purpose in human existence, leading one to strive for a state of harmony with oneself and others while working to balance inner needs with the rest of the world”. As such, it’s easy to see why spirituality might contribute to workplace wellness.
The Mayo Clinic staff state that “Spirituality has many benefits for stress relief and overall mental health.” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00035 They note “Uncovering your spirituality may take some self-discovery. … Spirituality may involve getting in touch with your inner self to focus your thoughts and find peace of mind.”
Spiritual teachings often encourage people to examine their own thoughts and actions with a desire to be a better person or to honour a higher power. Honest self-examination is healthy in itself, and crucial for an individual or a company seeking to improve the workplace. Shakespeare said “Know thyself…” and Mary Baker Eddy, a Christian healer and teacher, put it this way “We should examine ourselves and learn what is the affection and purpose of the heart, for in this way only can we learn what we honestly are.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures p8)
Companies seeking to improve their workplace wellness can find a wealth of recommendations on the internet. Here are a few that really focus on the mental aspect of wellness:
- http://healthworkandwellness.com/blog (Note their current annual conference on Health, Work and Wellness in Halifax, NS — which includes spirituality as an important, yet often neglected, factor).
- There is even an award given each year to the company that best achieves workplace wellness.http://healthworkandwellness.com/awards/canadian-workplace-wellness-pioneer-award/about-the-award
It takes commitment and effort by company management and the employee to have a healthy workplace by starting with a healthy mental environment. But companies and employees who have focused on it have found that the benefits are well worth the effort.
Joy Hinman is a Christian Science practitioner and lives in Turner Valley, Alberta