The shocking state of mental health in business
Never before has it been so clear that western society is losing its way and suffering the very real consequences of stress, anxiety, depression and mental ill health. Reading The Week UK today shows persistent trends for the need for pleasure, despite us having clear evidence and guidance that genuine happiness has nothing to do with material possessions or money, fame etc.
Robbie Williams confessing that he thinks of food all of the time in an article that reveals the most successful British solo act in history is not happy. He describes an incessant need to read what people are saying about him on the internet, and allowing the single critical post out of doubtless many positive messages, to "crush his soul". He describes being either thin and depressed or fat and ashamed. It is so sad to this this once iconic figure crumbling.
On the same page we can read about Ozzie Osbourne being in therapy for sex addiction at 70 years old, which is basically a constant seeking of pleasure, and a feeling of being wanted.
Russell Brand is telling the world how he has now seen the light, and is no longer interested in being a narcissist, as he launches his new book with a very humble front cover picture of himself - the irony.
On page 15 there is a small insight into the alarming growth of addiction, anxiety, and depression in rich countries, the UK being one of the leaders. Prescriptions in the UK for anti depressants have more than doubled in 10 years, and we sport nearly a third of Europe's reported drug overdoses. Again, the author Robert H. Lustig writing for the Observer, states the root cause to be "an incessant quest for pleasure". He points out the common mistake of confusing pleasure and happiness, and how seeking the former directly restricts our ability to enjoy the latter.
Turn to page 21 for a view of what the scientists are saying and you'll find the results of an NHS report that 1 in 3 'sick notes' issued by GPs in the UK are for mental health problems - 1 in 3 of every 'sick note'! This makes anxiety and depression the leaders in reasons for people being off work, and many of them are issued for periods in excess of 12 weeks.
So what - lots of people are really suffering.
The good news is that Mindfulness etc. is now all the rage in business circles. There is so much mention of addressing mental health, but when you look at how many businesses are running effective well-being programmes, incorporating education, practical 'tools', mediation, mindfulness, therapy, performance enhancement etc., you will find it is actually a tiny percentage. I mean really small.
It seems the proactive, practical, approach to employee well-being is limited to the likes of Google, and exciting new starts ups with large investment, like Improbable whose key priority is employee well-being. It is no accident that these companies become the giants. There are many examples.
Most of even the best businesses are talking about it a lot, and many businesses are simply suffering the consequences, because ironically, they haven't got time to prioritise their people. It is not the right approach.
The major irony in all of this, is that we, humans, are completely in control of the persistent, global scale feeling out of being out of control.
Maybe the Dalai Lama is wrong after all, and AI and robots is the answer?!?