As a career coach I work with a number of clients that have been referred to me through psychologists and counsellors. For many of these individuals, their health issues have been linked to challenges they are facing within their roles, their organisations and for some their career choices in general. What concerns me however is that there appears to still be a lack of awareness around the strong link between mental health and career satisfaction.
Firstly, I want to clarify and ensure people realise that mental health issues need to be managed with professionals. I am not stating at all that you should replace working with a psychologist or counsellor with a career coach, rather the opposite. What you need to be aware of is that when working with your psychologist or career coach, your career issues may be identified and this is where you may benefit bringing in a career coach to work with as well.
Mental health issues driven from career dissatisfaction, job loss, work demands and misalignment between personal and organisational values, are becoming more advertised, however I still personally feel that there is a stigma around such issues. Awareness of how important career satisfaction is to overall mental health needs to be more vocalised. Organisations and employees need to understand the challenges that arise when their is a misalignment between values, or where career goals are not being achieved, and that these can create mental health issues.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs clearly shows the most fundamental needs as being physiological, such as breathing, food water and sleep, with the next being security/safety and then a sense of belonging. Translating these back to career and job satisfaction, we can see clearly how issues with job loss, a feeling of safety and satisfaction of employment, what are defined here as the foundations of human needs may lead to mental health issues.
Further to this, the Holmes and Rahe Stress scale ranks job loss at number 8 and retirement at number 10, business restructure as number 15, change in responsibilities at work at number 22. To put this in to perspective, the results rank foreclosure of a mortgage at 21 and death of a close friend at 17.
Although many individuals will not suffer from mental health issues following these situations, it is extremely important for all of us as professionals to realise, respect and be aware that this is a real issue. Awareness is the first step, being able to support people comes after this.
I don’t have an answer, and I am definitely not qualified to provide one, however I realise, respect and am aware that there is an extreme link between career related issues, job loss and unemployment with mental health. The more we can talk about this the more we have a chance of being able to help those that need the support.
If you feel that you are struggling with mental health issues at work or in life please realise there is help. Australian support lines include:
Beyondblue 1300 22 46 36
Lifeline 13 11 44
Or visit your local doctor for immediate help.