Well-being seems to be a subject which has hit the headlines so much recently, It feels like it has employed it’s own PR consultancy. I think it can be traced back to Dame Carol Black’s 2008 Review of the health of Britain’s working age population, (downloadable here).
There have been some great debates around the subject, where it has made guest appearances in large conferences as well featuring in it’s own seminars held at The Building Centre, excellently chaired and organised by Elina Grigoriou.
Working for a company who have been amazingly successful with ground breaking seating designs, I’m fully aware of how important the physical aspects of the workplace are, especially ergonomics. Herman Miller have created a great interactive website called the Ergonomics Hub which covers this subject really well.
However, Channel 4 have been highlighting the issue of mental health this week, and particularly the ongoing stigma surrounding the subject. From Ruby Wax’s enlightening look at depression, to Jon Richardson’s sometimes disturbing overview of OCD, it has been compelling viewing. It certainly made me question how inclusive we really are, or whether all we do is give the subject lip-service. It’s so much easier to deal with outwardly obvious physical illness, but it is so much harder and for some impossible to come to terms with mental illness. I do wonder whether the demands being placed on people in these recessionary times are actually exacerbating stress, which is one of the main contributors to mental illness.
Whilst HR have a role to play in monitoring their staff’s well-being, I really think it is everyone’s duty to keep an eye on people that they work with closely. On the Ruby Wax documentary, it was disturbing to see the fear that people had about sharing the details of their mental illness with their colleagues. Together, we have to work towards a time when there is no stigma attached to mental illness, and that people can talk openly about the issue in the workplace.