Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who's in Charge? The Boss or Your Health!

Every employee in corporate America has dreaded going to work at some point in their lives. This is perfectly shown in the Emmy Award-winning comedy show, "The Office." Most people have  40-hour work weeks and many are stuck with any rotten shift, while facing their bosses with a painfully fake smile. Often times, working under these strict conditions can be a catalyst in the deterioration of someone's mental health. Not being able to get a job is even more devastating to the human psyche.

America should play attention to what is happening in the United Kingdom. This week Sian Harrington from HR Magazine wrote an article about the government of the United Kingdom considering a consultation to give people the right to request flexible work hours in order to improve the country's mental health conditions, since 23 percent of its population suffers from illnesses. The goal of this program, called No Health Without Mental Health Strategy, is to reduce mental health illnesses by 2014 and to "put people at the heart of everything we do, from a new focus on early intervention to increased funding for psychological therapy, so that everyone has a fair opportunity to get their lives back on track." 

What this plan will do is provide  psychological therapies to everyone with a mental health problem. An estimated 1 million people will recover from their psychological condition, with 75,000 people getting both their jobs and lives back together. The program will save $700 million in government spending. These savings can go towards various tax, welfare and health care benefits for the employees. The government is planning to meet this weekend to discuss how affective this program will be and how to execute it.

The United States government may be in no shape to negotiate work hours and create the same exact program considering how poor the economy has been the past few years, but the United Kingdom has a point. Shouldn't the well-being of the people be considered first and foremost so that violent attacks like the Tucson tragedy could be prevented? The U.S. should take a step into creating more programs for people to at least feel useful and not feel depressed that they are not able to get a job, instead of firing them. The United Kingdom is onto something great, and what their government is doing is something that people rarely see: the caring for the mental health of their citizens.

- Vivian Mikhail

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