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As far as the environmental profile is concerned in the AQai assessment, environment is all about the situation that you find yourself in and your ability to influence, adapt or renegotiate that environment. The emotional health score is characterised as how often do you feel sadness or stress. I rather feel that this is being called emotional health because they’re avoiding some of the more loaded terms that are associated with mental health, mental well-being or mental illness. The way this is scored does give you some indication about how you feel, in other words, the state of your mood, in relation to your workplace, but it’s not going to constitute a mental well-being assessment.
Where Emotional Health fits in to Change
There are lots of other very good scoring tools out there that allow you to assess your mental well-being. Perhaps the best known are the Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scales which give very reliable indications of your mental well-being. The questions look at a whole range of different aspects that indicate mental health and they are academically robust, widely used. The scales have been shown to be consequential and do respond to interventions that seek to improve your mental well-being.
In the context of fully understanding the adaptability capability of an individual, a team and an organisation, emotional health is an important sub-dimension. Think about what’s involved with change. For most people change is going to be personally disruptive. If you are already unhappy, the likelihood is that change risks increasing your unhappiness. If you are very happy (if your emotional health is very high) before you commit to substantial change, then calibrating impact change on emotional health or, if it’s an extended transition, how your emotional health varies through the transition, is important to understand what interventions are required to sustain good emotional health. There’s a well-established change curve that you go through in any major corporate transformation. Initially you are often very positive in the expectation of the benefits of change, usually because the change agents sell the corporate benefits very strongly. Then, as you encounter the personal implications, your comfort with change reduces and you are likely to move in to a trough of negativity. Depending upon how well you are supported through the change, you can come out the other side in a better state or at a lower level. Tracking emotional health through a long-term transition, can be very useful for a change team.
Emotional Health and Engagement
I believe it is important to recognise that emotional health is a key contributor to the level of engagement you may expect from individuals, teams and the wider organisation. If emotional health is low, then you may want to make some further interventions to improve emotional health before you start making a significant change. People are less likely to be engaged if they are depressed, withdrawn and alienated. The AQai assessment doesn’t specifically use Emotional Health as a measure for these things, but I think they’re correlated. Better emotional health should mean you are more likely to engage positively in the change you face. Your capacity to take on the additional emotional load associated with change is reduced if you’re already depressed or alienated. Generally, the emotional health of individuals, teams, and the organisation is important for the wider health of the organisation. By tracking this regularly you get an indication of where there may be weaknesses within individual teams. You can then examine the context. Is that situational? Is it due to the manager/leader of that team? Is there a general decline across the whole organisation? Is that situational, or is it temporary? Do you really need to deal with something that is more intrinsic to the way the organisation is developing? Are there particular individuals who are at risk?
Taking Responsibility for your Emotional Health
If you are looking at your own emotional health score, and you feel that it’s not what it should be, then what can you do?
I would suggest there’s three things you can do:
1 – Understand: You can deeply reflect on the extent to which what’s happening at work is directly impacting your emotional health. Are you suffering from boredom, bullying, being undervalued, or excessive workload? Is this lowering your emotional health?
2 – Renegotiate: Explore whether there are things that you can renegotiate with your direct manager or within the team setting. Consider whether you need to involve HR.
3 – Get Help: Seek out people within the organisation who have got mental health awareness training. Many organisations now have people who have got mental health first aid training. Take advantage, of the employee support program where you can get confidential advice (if there is one). Consider if you need to look beyond the work situation at wider issues around your emotional health/mental health. Are there things going on in your home environment. Have you got a history of mental health difficulties that are exacerbated by the current situation or simply because you’re less able to manage your mood.
Emotional health for individuals, teams and organisations is a powerful determinant of adaptability. The AQai assessment gives you a confidential and robust way of assessing and monitoring emotional health over time. There are plenty of ways that individuals, managers and leaders can intervene to improve the emotional health at work but too often the importance of investing in emotional health is ignored.
Additional Thoughts on Mental Health
The days in which poor mental health was something you just had to grin and bear are over. There are a whole range of support systems available to people. If your emotional health is under threat, I strongly recommend that you take advantage of those opportunities.
If you’re interested in my personal journey around mental health then there are three articles you can find here:
Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.