Since 1992, every year, April is marked as Stress Awareness Month. Obviously, awareness of stress should not be about just a month’s worth of talking and then forgetting about it for the other eleven months. This applies to numerous symbolic gestures, we as humankind have come up with over the years.
As most of you may know, my wife is a Chartered Psychologist, and I am a Chartered Mechanical Engineer. When we had just started seeing each other, and I was working as the Lead Stress Engineer at David Brown. When we talk of stress, she comes from the human side, and I from the machine side. However, the terms and phrases we use in both instances, such as load, force, pressure, strain, fatigue, and stress, are not dissimilar in nature. Let us see how:
- Load: It can be defined as a burden, external or internal, acting on a structure. It takes numerous forms such as force, pressure and so forth, but the effect it has on the structure is the same.
- Strain: The extent to which the structure deforms or undergoes a noticeable change.
- Stress: The effect of the burden in relation to the burden carrying capacity of the structure.
The similarities, however, end here. Machines and inanimate objects, however expensive they are, can be replaced, but people cannot. More importantly, how do we ensure the wellness of our work force? Some pointers below:
- The important thing all of us must understand is that we are not machine operators or project managers or engineers or directors. We are people and our lives are much richer than the jobs we do, the titles we hold, and the value we bring to our employers.
- Let us for a moment think about our physical health. It is a science, underpinned by years of research, and measurable and monitorable solutions. When someone has an ailment, the objective is to make it go away, but we’re not treating the ailment. We are treating the person.
- Furthermore, if someone has injured their foot, we do not treat their arm. Also, we do not prescribe the same, one-size-fits-all treatment to people with different conditions. This is important to understand.
- Now, to mental health. Just like physical health and associated conditions, mental health also covers a diverse spectrum of conditions. Similar to physical health, mental health is a science. Psychologists and psychiatrists obtain science based degrees and qualifications. Let us first acknowledge these facts.
- Again, having a one-size-fits-all approach such as a mass reiki or meditation will not work. We must stop thinking that a one-off or once-in-a-month, box-ticking, CSR initiative for mental health will do the job. It will not. What you need is professional psychologists and psychiatrists to help. The argument is “oh they are too expensive”. My question to you is what is the price of a person’s life?
To summarise today’s post:
- Just like physical health, mental health is a science
- A one-size-fits-all approach such as a box-ticking, CSR driven, mass-reiki or a meditation session will not help
- Let us ask ourselves, “what is the price of a person’s life?” and we might take mental health as seriously as we must