Workplace Mindfulness Program for Public Sector Employees

Mindfulness training appears to reduce stress and distress, but little is known about whether its appropriateness as a workplace stress management intervention for a large and distributed public sector workforce.

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This study evaluated a pilot 5-week Mindfulness at Work Program (MaWP) for acceptability, feasibility, and efficacy in relation to stress and related mental health and productivity problems for public sector employees.

The intervention thus appears to have potential merit as a workplace intervention for public sector employees across a range of outcomes. Obtaining informant observations was feasible and while qualitative analyses indicated positive changes that supported self-reported outcomes, quantitative analyses returned ambiguous results. A seven-item scale adapted from a popular self-report mindfulness scale for use by informants showed promise, but further work is needed to establish validity, reliability, and scalability of this method of assessing observable changes following mindfulness training.

Full reference: Bartlett, L. et al. (2017) Acceptability, Feasibility, and Efficacy of a Workplace Mindfulness Program for Public Sector Employees: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial with Informant Reports. Mindfulness. 8(639)

Mental health issues higher in public sector workers

Survey from Mental Health charity, Mind finds a higher prevalence of mental health problems in the public sector, as well as a lack of support available when people do speak up.

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The charity surveyed over 12,000 employees across the public and private sectors and found that public sector workers were more likely to say their mental health was poor than their peers in the private sector (15% versus 9%), and far more likely to say they had felt anxious at work on several occasions over the last month (53% compared to 43%).

Public sector workers were more likely to disclose that they had a mental health problem (90% versus 80% in the private sector), were more likely to be honest about the reason for needing time off (69% versus 59%), and more likely to report that the workplace culture made it possible for people to speak openly about their mental health (38% versus 29%).

However, when public sector employees admitted mental health problems, less than half (49%) of them said they felt supported, compared with 61% of staff from the private sector.

Full story: Mind reveals shocking differences in mental health support for public & private sector workers

Workplace health promotion

Report suggests that effective investment in health and wellbeing can save a company more than it spends on the interventions | RAND

The importance of the workplace as a setting for health promotion is increasingly recognised by employers and policymakers. As a result, workplace health promotion programmes are growing in numbers and scope around the world.  Such programmes have the potential to generate returns on investments and can reduce overall health costs.

Image source: www.rand.org

The RAND Corporation has published The return of investment for preventive healthcare programmes.  This report outlines the divers of successful workplace health promotion programmes, provides an overview of health and wellbeing interventions offered by pharmaceutical companies, and develops a framework to analyse the return on investment of such projects, applying it to GSK’s P4P programme

Help offered to medical students in crisis

The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF) has today re-launched its programme of support for UK medical students | OnMedica

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Image source: RMBC

In two new publications it encourages students to seek help and offers advice on how to cope with the demands of studying medicine.

The charity aims to support and protect the future of the medical profession, offering financial help in the form of grants for students facing critical and unexpected hardship while studying. Previously this support was offered in the form of loans, but by switching to grants the RMBF hopes to reach more students in need who may be wary of taking on additional debt.

A new downloadable publication, The Vital Signs for Medical Students, highlights key pressure trigger points for medical students and provides advice on managing stress during the rigours of medical education. A new-look leaflet, for distribution in medical schools, will also set out the support on offer and encourage students to seek help in difficult times.

The re-launched RMBF website also hosts an updated guide to medical student finances, which provides information on sources of funding, advice on applying for bursaries and grants, and tips for saving money as a student.

Read the full overview here

The report is available to download here

Mindfulness training can reduce depression and anxiety among nurses

Hunter, L. (2017) BMJ Evidence-based Nursing. 20(2)

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Commentary on:

Implications for practice and research:

  • Mindfulness can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety among nurses and may improve patient care.

  • There is a need for future quantitative studies to measure the nurse-perceived benefits of mindfulness identified in qualitative research.

  • Mixed-methods reviews can help develop a more complete and clinically relevant understanding of a given topic.

Read the full commentary here

Read the original research article here

Eight elements of workplace wellbeing

A new poster and web section has launched to show the eight elements that are critical to delivering a robust and effective health and wellbeing offer for your staff | NHS Employers

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Image source: NHS Employers

All eight elements need to be in place in order to ensure your wellbeing strategy is as effective as possible. Communication and leadership are essential to create a healthy culture in your organisation, where staff are fully supported.

For more information on the featured points, view the vital signs: eight elements of workplace wellbeing web section.

Time to take action on doctor fatigue

March 17th is World Sleep Day and the Royal College of Anaesthetists and  the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland are calling for action on the issue of safe working hours for doctors.

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On World Sleep Day, which highlights the importance of getting adequate sleep, the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) sets out its three-point plan to address the culture surrounding doctor fatigue in hospitals and tackle the problem of excessive fatigue. Such fatigue is known to impair decision making, with consequences for both doctors and their patients. Fatigue at the end of night shifts is of particular concern, with the tragic reports of doctors who have died in car accidents, having fallen asleep at the wheel on their drive home following a night shift.

A survey by the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) also shows that 85% of junior anaesthetists are at high risk of burnout; fatigue is known to be a risk factor for this.

Through a fatigue task group with partners including the RCoA, the AAGBI has devised the following 3-point plan:

  1. Support publication of a national survey about junior doctor fatigue, covering accessibility of hospital rest facilities, commuting after working night shifts and the impact of fatigue on physical and psychological health.
  2. Roll out of a fatigue education programme informing doctors and their managers about fatigue and how they can reduce its risks.
  3. Defining the standards for adequate rest facilities and cultural attitudes towards rest in hospitals.